Parametrics and Nat Cat

floodI participated on the SRS webinar recently about using a captive program for natural catastrophe risks (Nat Cat) and found it quite interesting. Most often, Nat Cat risk is insured with parametric insurance, a type of insurance that does not indemnify the pure loss, but rather issues a set payment upon the occurrence of an objective triggering event, such as an earthquake of a certain magnitude or a hurricane of a specific intensity.  The use of a parametric trigger has been around for some time, but there seems to be growing interest in the tool, especially with the number of natural disasters increasing exponentially every year.

Robert Nusslein, Head, Innovative Risk Solutions Americas, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, effectively described how captives can play a role in parametric insurance.  With insurance markets looking like they are hardening, especially property in natural disaster-prone areas, a new approach needs to be contemplated. As Swiss Re explains, parametric insurance products are linked to reputable, objective third-party sources, which are used to determine an insurance payout. They are designed to provide catastrophe coverage and complement, but not replace, traditional insurance coverage. Using this structure, parametric insurance payouts are quickly determined, easily measured, and effectively eliminate loss adjustment hassles. The proceeds from a parametric insurance payout can be used at the buyer’s full discretion.

Captives can play a variety of roles in this type of scenario.  As Brady Young pointed out, captives allow corporate to transfer risk of its subsidiaries to the parent’s captive insurer. Also, subsidiaries retain risk in their comfort zone and are able to assume it with less negative impact to financial results from Nat Cat or weather events. The captive can assume an appropriate amount of risk, anywhere from 90% to as little as 10%, with a reinsurer behind the captive assuming the balance of risk. Risk can be split in primary and excess layer participations or a percent quota share participation between captive and reinsurer. Reinsurers provide underwriting, structure and pricing expertise for parametric Nat Cat covers and third-party arm’s length pricing verification for the captive and its regulator.

All of this helps captive owners capture some of the benefits of parametric insurance, such as breadth of coverage, speed of loss payments, and supplemental coverage to traditional insurance.  And with the growing risk from natural catastrophes due to climate change, it is important for captive owners to be ready!

Thank you very much, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith,
VCIA President

Young at Heart

Young professionals

Young captive professionals at a recent VCIA event.

Recruiting and training the next generation of captive professionals is a paramount issue for our industry, as everyone knows. Both CICA and NRRA have programs designed to reach out to this group and draw them into the industry.  Fostering newcomers to join the field and eventually step into the roles of our current captive leaders and professionals is an initiative that VCIA takes to heart.

Over the past number of years, VCIA’s Annual Conference has created places and sessions where young professionals can learn from and network with both peers and seasoned professionals as they pick a pathway forward in the captive insurance field.  Besides our NEW Captive Immersion experience, which will familiarize those who are new to the captive industry on the key services, and our annual Captives 101 session that provides a basic overview of captive insurance companies and RRGs, other VCIA sessions designated for young professionals include:

Developing the Next Generation of Captive Industry Leaders, which will explore what is being done in the industry to attract and retain new talent.  According to the Pew Research Center, millennials were the largest portion of the workforce in 2016. As a group they are very connected, having grown up with the internet in their everyday life. In the workforce, they are eager to make a meaningful contribution to the workplace and the greater good. In many ways, this group is helping transform organizations.

Our Young Professionals Forum will provide a great resource particularly for those with fewer than 10 years of captive experience.  Three dynamic facilitators will lead small group discussions about sharpening your speaker skills, how to approach your early career years and work/life balance.  Afterwards, an open forum will occur for a fluid discussion on topics such as transitioning into the workforce, professionalism and meeting work demands in a sometimes-stressful environment.

On top of all that is just the best networking opportunities both “on campus” and “off campus” in the captive industry, so, I hope you all can join us! Click here to register for the VCIA Conference today.

Thank you all very much, and I look forward to hearing from you!

If the Spirit(s) Move You

headytopperAs you know (because of my constant pestering), the Great VCIA Annual Conference is coming right up! Well for those of you that are able to join us the week of August 5th, we have a little treat for you.

Come to VCIA’s Opening Reception in the Exhibit Hall on Tuesday and enjoy samplings of Vermont artisan brews and spirits. Look for the gold balloons throughout the hall to find these special beverages while connecting with great companies who are exhibiting, and industry peers from around the world.

Special samplings from the Alchemist (brewer of the world-famous Heady Topper), Zero Gravity, Boyden Valley, Caledonia Spirits’ Barr Hill Gin, Stonecutter Spirits, Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine, Whistle Pig Rye, Mad River Distillers and Stowe Cider.

So, come join us and enjoy your Vermont tipple! Click here to register today.

Thank you all very much, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Congratulations Sandy & Ian!

sandyandIan2018Two of Vermont’s best in the captive industry have just been recently honored.

Sandy Bigglestone, Director of Captive Insurance for Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation, has been named to the Business Insurance 2018 Women to Watch, that recognizes 30 women leaders doing outstanding work in risk management and commercial insurance worldwide.  Business Insurance readers nominated candidates for Women to Watch, and a panel of Business Insurance editors selected the honorees based on those nominations.  Also recognized in this list is Ellen Charnley of Marsh Captive Solutions. Sandy not only does outstanding work for the State of Vermont, but she has become a true leader in the captive insurance industry – someone who is sought out for her advice and her expertise on panels and forums across the country. And she does it all with a great sense of humor and aplomb!

Ian Davis took the reins at Vermont’s Department of Economic Development as Director of Finance only a short time ago and he has already made a name for himself. He quickly became the go-to guy for Vermont in its continuing conquest of the captive insurance world. Vermont Business Magazine named Ian to their 2018 Class of Rising Stars. Award recipients were selected by a panel of judges for their commitment to business growth, professional excellence and involvement in their communities. I couldn’t agree more!

Just two more reasons Vermont is the BEST place for captive insurance. Congratulations Sandy and Ian!

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Back to work!

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Thank you to everyone who joined us in beautiful Burlington, Vermont, a couple of weeks ago for the VCIA Annual Conference! Without a doubt, it was a terrific 2 ½ days with great programs, networking and events. With over 1000 attendees from 44 States (plus the Virgin Islands) and 9 countries, where roughly 23% were captive owners and 18% first-timers, our annual gathering in August has grown to be THE captive insurance forum!

The conference had great energy – people liked the fresh format changes and extra touches, and, as one attendee stated “the enthusiasm for the captive industry shone throughout all aspects of the event.”  The learning formats and interactivity of the event were also held in high standing.  Many thanks to our sponsors and exhibitors without whom we could not put on such an event, as well as to the hundreds of volunteers who make it happen.

Now after a little break, we are back to work again looking out for the captive industry. In case you missed it, we hosted a webinar Wednesday on the recent Avrahami decision regarding the use of the 831(b) tax election for small captives. Chaz Lavelle, Partner at Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP, and Dan Kusaila, Tax Partner at Crowe Horwath LLP, provided terrific analysis not only on what the opinion says, but also what it means. Avrahami is the first court case involving a captive taxed under section 831(b).   If you missed it, you can purchase a recording of the webinar through VCIA’s Captive EDU.

Other VCIA webinars on the docket include Short Duration Contracts coming up on September 14, State of the Union for Captives October 18 with Jim McIntyre and I summarizing all things legislatively current, Reinsurance Marketplace Trends in November and our annual Captive Taxation Update webinar December 14.  Notices will be sent by email once registration is open, or check our site.

Thank you all very much, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Two Sides of the Same Coin

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Talk to most business people anywhere and the thought of “regulation” can make them bristle. And with good reason. Often times overzealous regulators help create overzealous regulations that are intended to protect citizens or the environment or fair markets but can instead create sweeping mandates that do more harm than good. To wit, the Trump administration’s proposal reducing regulations for American businesses by requiring that for every new rule proposed, two should be repealed.

This has reminded me of my old friend and former CICA President Dennis Harwick’s dictum he called the ‘regulatory imperative’: First and foremost, regulators live in terror of being accused of failing to protect consumers in whatever industry they are regulating. Second, they want everything and everybody they regulate to fit into a single template.

Captives—by nature and definition—tend not to fit within that regulatory dynamic. As Vermont’s chief captive regulator, Dave Provost, is fond of saying, ‘When you’ve seen one captive, you’ve seen one captive.’ Captives don’t usually fit into a template, due to the uniqueness of the risks and plans of their specific owners. Also, the consumer protection element is vastly reduced by the fact that the ‘consumers’ actually build and own the captive.

I think the anti-regulatory wave could be a double-edged sword for captives. On the one hand, rolling back regulations does open the door for more opportunity for American businesses.  And certainly for captives there have been numerous instances where regulations have had a deleterious impact on our industry, primarily at the federal level, but also in states with little or no understanding of captive insurance concepts.

But deregulation could introduce some uncertainty for underwriters as regulations often are created to reduce risk for businesses. In an article in Risk & Insurance by Katie Siegel this past April, she writes that if regulation goes away, some risk comes back. Maybe not right away, but with a lack of oversight in some key areas of safety and loss prevention, those risks may start to creep up again and result in unintended losses. And underwriters also rely on federal regulations to provide a reliable risk management framework by creating a reliable compliance framework for all companies to follow.

Good, strong regulation is consistent with the mission of the parent organizations that license their captives in Vermont. The best risk managers understand that adhering to high standards is as much about good business as it is about compliance.  After all, it’s their money at risk!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Sometimes it Works!

compromise

There are too many horror stories about dealing with government bureaucracies, but here is a “shout out” to the State of Virginia as well as an important lesson to always keep trying.

VCIA and NRRA wrote letters regarding the proposed changes to the Virginia Fair Claims Act. The Act threatened to effectively eliminate any ability to write coverage on a “claims-made and reported” policy form and would have negatively impacted RRGs doing business in the state. Our letters addressed the fact that the language of the proposal could have been interpreted to include a requirement that all insurers must demonstrate prejudice in order to deny coverage based on the insured’s failure to comply with time-limited policy notice provisions.

Somewhat surprisingly, the letters generated a personal call to me from the Virginia State Corporation Commission the following day, and we were invited to work with them to fix the issue.  Drawing on the expertise of VCIA members Joe Holahan, Jon Harkavy, Kathy Davis and Skip Myers, we suggested a slight change to the proposal that satisfied the state’s needs while protecting RRGs. It’s heartening to me when a state responds quickly and openly to comments, and it’s a good reminder on just how vigilant we need to be!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith
VCIA President