The Doctor is in the House

Hartwig, Robert photo 2020 smaller

Dr. Robert Hartwig will be a Keynote Speaker at the VCIA Virtual Annual Conference August 11th

I will be stating the obvious here in when I say we are living in unprecedented times. Trade wars, political turmoil, and the beginnings of a hardening market last year has kept the captive industry on its toes with shifting economic trade winds.  On top of that a world-wide pandemic and social unrest in this country, and it’s a wonder how risk managers sleep at night.   We have invited back a keynote to VCIA Virtual 2020 who addressed our conference about 10 years ago to analyze some of the economic effects facing the insurance industry today, and beyond.

I remember Bob saying he had about 90 or slides to get through in his presentation back then but not to worry – he would make good time.  Sure enough, he ran through the slides effortlessly and I had so many members tell me how much they appreciated his keynote.

Dr. Robert Hartwig is clinical associate professor of finance and director of the Risk and Uncertainty Management Center in the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, and the former president and economist for the Insurance Information Institute in New York.

Over the years, Dr. Hartwig has focused his work on improving understanding of key insurance issues across all industry stakeholders including media, consumers, insurers, producers, regulators, legislators, and investors.  At the University of South Carolina, he teaches courses in risk management, insurance, and corporate finance.  He mentors students and serves and serves as a liaison between the university and the private insurance industry. Bob appears frequently in all major media, speaks internationally, and has testified before many Congressional and state committees on a wide variety of insurance issues.

At VCIA Virtual 2020, Bob will speak on the current state of affairs, and the transitioning insurance market, incorporating themes such as the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the industry that will resonate through the rest of the conference. So, come join us for what will be a truly innervating talk!

I look forward to seeing you all in August at VCIA Virtual! View all the details here.

The F.B.I.

fbi FThose of us of a certain age can remember with absolute clarity the start of the popular show in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The announcer, in a strong, determined voice would introduce, “The F.B.I… starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.” and then we would have an hour-long drama whereby the eponymous organization would hunt down one bad guy after the other.

Well, at this year’s VCIA 2020 Virtual we may not have such a dramatic opening, and the bad guys now hide in the dark web, but the thrill is still there. Joining us on August 12th will be FBI Special Agent Matthew Wabby, currently assigned to the white-collar squad in Albany, NY, investigating corruption, fraud, money laundering and related crimes.  With his panel, he will explore how companies should respond to an increasingly complex and changing set of rules as our business environment and society move ever more quickly into the digital sphere.

Special Agent Wabby will be joined by a group of highly placed cyber and captive insurance experts:

  • Chris Giovino, who leads a practice for Aon when clients have suffered a loss due to crime, employee malfeasance or fidelity related matters;
  • Heather McClure, JD, LLM, Chief Risk Officer, OU Medicine and Executive Director of Operations, OU Physicians, who leads their Vermont-based captive insurance company; and
  • Shiraz Saeed of Starr Insurance Companies, the national practice leader for Cyber Risk responsible for the strategic direction and expansion of the Cyber Risk products and services.

Cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated. Organized crime now uses former intelligence members for more sophisticated attacks, broadening the nature of their attacks, and increasing their frequency. An ever-changing set of regulations from governments around the global compounds the difficulty of managing against cyber risks.

Join us to learn some positive ways to shield against cyber-attacks and respond to breaches if they do occur.  I look forward to seeing you all in August at VCIA Virtual! Register by June 30th for the lowest rates! View all the details here.

A Dramedy Not to Be Missed!

dramedyspeakersLook, nobody wants to be caught in a crisis impacting their captive program and not be prepared. And as we are all dealing with the larger crisis of the pandemic, we can’t take our eye off the day-to-day issues that arise within a captive.  One of the education sessions at VCIA Virtual (our 100% virtual captive conference, if you haven’t kept up) will look at the steps in place to deal with a crisis situation, which can occur no matter how diligent we may be.

Instead of a dry dissertation on the elements of a good crisis management plan, our conference session, called “Crisis Management – A Case Study Dramedy” will explore the reactions, interactions, strategies, and machinations that are all set into motion when a captive or RRG has significant adverse development.  In this “dramedy”, which combines the elements of drama and comedy, the panel will illustrate a situation where adverse development leads to a material reduction in surplus that threatens the company’s stability rating and portends regulatory scrutiny. Various parties will respond to address the cascading circumstances, some more effectively than others.

The panel includes Julie Bordo of PCH Mutual Insurance Company RRG, as moderator, Tina Bukow of Kroll Bond Rating Agency, Gail Newman of Bright Horizons (a captive owner), Dan Petterson of Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation, Kevin Seabury of Opus Investment, Robert Walling of Pinnacle Actuarial Resources, and Troy Winch of Risk Services LLC.  A great group of thespians to give you clarity through observing crisis management in action!

I look forward to seeing you all in August at VCIA Virtual! Register by June 30th for the lowest rates! View all the details here.

Rich Smith,
VCIA President

Open for Business!

final-art-city-square_1After weeks of high anticipation (well, by me anyway), the VCIA 2020 Virtual Conference is open for you to register!

“VCIA Virtual” is the first captive event since the shutdown and is a great opportunity to reconnect and discover what’s going on in the industry.  The event has been carefully designed to meet your needs – come and go as you please to make the event work best for you!

Register today for the August 11 – 13th event to learn, connect with others, earn professional education credit, visit exhibitors, see great keynotes and more. Continuing professional education credits are available through August 15th to watch what you missed. Since all the educational sessions are easily accessible, attendees may earn more credit than ever before during the event – a total of 21 credits are available.

Sure, you’re a little skeptical on how this virtual thing is going to work. Well, we have developed a “sneak peek” of how the conference will look and feel as an attendee for you to see. Click here to open your preview right now. I think you will enjoy the experience.

I look forward to seeing you all in August at VCIA Virtual! Register by June 30th for the lowest rates! View all the details here.

Rich Smith,
VCIA President

Memorial Day

Summer has finally arrived here in Vermont after a tough spring. 80 degrees and sunny – it makes me yearn for a barbeque this weekend.

As we all take time to be with our loved ones as best we can this weekend, we must also think about the folks on the front lines dealing with the pandemic on a daily basis. Everyone from  ER nurses and doctors (who went into their careers knowing these risks) to grocery store workers, hardware store clerks, social workers and public transportation workers (who have been thrust into unforeseen and at times impossible positions during this time). We owe each of them an enormous debt of gratitude. As I sit here safe at my kitchen table (now my executive suite), I recognize that I am privileged in this scenario, and that others are not.

If you haven’t done so already, reach out to those in your community who are on the front lines.  They might not be able to spend this weekend with loved ones, friends, and family. A sincere thank you to a minimum wage store clerk may be extra appreciated at this time. And, of course, reach out to your own family and friends and stay connected. Human contact, no matter how much social distancing is required, is more important than ever. And being appreciative of others who are in harm’s way to keep us all safe, is paramount.

Have a peaceful Memorial Day weekend. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Now, That’s Dedication!

ed koral in closet

Note the VCIA Conference bag in the background : )

We are all working under trying circumstances these days as we work our way through this pandemic. But here is an example I think we can all agree goes above and beyond. This is an actual picture of Ed Koral, one of our intrepid panelists during yesterday’s VCIA webinar on Adapting your Captive Program to a Shifting Insurance Market. Talk about adapting!

Ed is a managing director with BDO’s Insurance Risk Advisory Group, a longtime VCIA member, former board member and recipient of VCIA’s vaunted Captive Crusader award in 2019. He is currently working from his home in New York City (COVID-19 ground zero) and has to share both physical and mental space with his wife and two children. Because of the noisy work going on outside his building he needed to use a closet as his studio for the webinar. As fellow presenter Andrew Baillie of AES said, it’s a little Harry Potteresque.

Thank you, Ed! And thank you Andrew, Steve Bauman of AXA XL, and Christine Brown from Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation for a great presentation.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!

Parametrics and Nat Cat

I 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

As 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