School’s Back In!


jack-black-smith-2Just got back from a couple of conferences this week and it always gives me great perspective. First, I attended the Self Insurance Institute of America (SIIA) conference in Austin (cool city!) where the focus is primarily healthcare and workers comp. SIIA brings together all the self-insurance groups in these areas, but is seeing a growth in the captive arena as it pertains to stop-loss and workers comp.  VCIA’s Janice Valgoi, DFR’s Dave Provost, Primmer’s Jesse Crary and I did many hours of booth duty over the course of a couple days. We had a number of people come up to us and ask, “So what’s the State of Vermont doing here?”  After explaining Vermont’s role in the world of captives it became clear to them and they seemed eager to understand captive insurance as the next new marketplace, but it also became clear to me that it will be a lot easier for organizations that are already working in the captive space to add stop-loss or workers comp, than vice versa.

At the National Risk Retention Association (NRRA) conference in Chicago (another cool city!) later in the week, I participated on a panel that examined the Next Generation and diversity in the captive insurance industry. The cool thing was that there were a number of insurance students from some nearby colleges who were not shy about what they think the industry should do, including coming into the classrooms and doing a spiel on captives, as well as providing mentoring and internships.  I think one of the best lines about this came from our long-time friend, Michael Bemi. When addressing the issue about the perception that insurance is boring, he said in captives you aren’t selling insurance, you’re building insurance – has a nice ring to it, I would say!

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

Washington Unbound

Board and Cong WelchJust returned from a productive trip to our nation’s capital this week (I know, sounds a little counter-intuitive these days). We started out at the Self Insurance Institute of America (SIIA) annual conference which brings together many professionals in the self-insurance business.  Self-Insurance (also referred to as self-funding) is an alternative risk transfer strategy used by tens of thousands of employers across the country to finance their group health plans and workers’ compensation programs, where expenses are paid as they are incurred as opposed to paying a fixed premium to a traditional insurance company. Since captive insurance is a form of self-insurance, it was good to see the growing interest from both the businesses that use self-insurance for their employees as well as the many service providers in the industry taking a look at the captive model.  Mike Ferguson and his team at SIIA put on a great conference and I am sure we will see more intersections between our groups going forward.

While in DC, a number of VCIA’s board members, our DC counsel, Jim McIntyre, and I met with senior staff from the FIO’s office to discuss the concerns raised over the Congressionally mandated collection of information regarding the use and uptake of TRIA. VCIA was part of a broad coalition of organizations that had urged Congress to pass the reauthorization of TRIA last year, as many of our members utilize it in their captives. Not surprisingly, the FIO staff members had little background in the captive arena; however, I believe we were able to take another step in educating policy makers on the subject. The staffers seemed genuinely thankful for our information and I am happy that we continue to keep the lines of communication open.

Later that day, we met senior staff of Senator Leahy’s office to discuss the captive clarification bill he co-sponsored with Senator Graham of South Carolina. Erica Chabot, Legislative Director, and Maggie Gendron, Legislative Assistant, have been doggedly pursuing a mechanism to get the bill that we believe will “fix” the NRRA issue moved forward. Here’s hoping for a break in the logjam sooner rather than later!

Finally, we sat down with Congressman Peter Welch and his Legislative Director, Patrick Satalin, to thank them for their continued support of Vermont’s captive insurance industry. As usual, Congressman Welch impressed us not only with his unremitting backing of our industry, but his knowledge of captives as a whole. I feel VCIA’s on-going communication and efforts on behalf of the industry continues to help nurture support in Washington from these important leaders.

So, overall, a great trip to DC.

Thanks and keep in touch!

Rich Smith
VCIA President