Young Professionals, Come to #VCIA2022 and Benefit!

As registrations for the VCIA’s August 2022 Conference climb, I am hearing feedback from members and non-members alike as to how pleased they are to be able to get back together again. In particular, there’s another large group that we are looking forward to seeing and serving at the event—the next generation of captive professionals. Here’s my pitch as to why they should come to #VCIA2022

Since our last in-person conference back in 2019, there’s been a considerable number of new entrants to the professions around the captive industry. Additionally, there is also a group that at that stage was early in their careers and have had limited in person networking opportunities. I am particularly interested in visiting with folks in these two groups— finding out what interests them, what they want to learn, and how our association can support them—because they broadly represent the future of the industry and of the VCIA.

A passionate advocate for captive careers and injecting the industry with youth and creativity, Brittany Nevins, the State of Vermont’s Captive Insurance Economic Development Director, thinks the VCIA Conference recognizes the importance of catering to a larger, newer base of professionals in our self-insurance industry. “There is a shift happening across the industry to intentionally focus more on bringing people into the captive industry as a career path. This shift in focus is visible throughout the VCIA Conference in various educational and networking opportunities. New professionals have more opportunities to speak on panels and share their unique and diverse perspectives, to ask one another how we can be more supportive, and how veterans in the industry can create opportunity. There’s much work to be done but it’s clear that this is a priority for the VCIA.”

There is a shift happening across the industry to intentionally focus more on bringing people into the captive industry as a career path. This shift in focus is visible throughout the VCIA Conference in various educational and networking opportunities

Brittany Nevins, Vermont’s Captive Insurance Economic Development Director

The carefully curated content of #VCIA2022 makes for strong professional development opportunities for young and new captive companies and employees. Captive Immersion on Monday 8/8 is a comprehensive program on the basics of the industry. There’s also Captive 101 the next day as well as a number of sessions categorized as “beginner” level that would be appropriate and beneficial to someone with limited experience under their belt.

Besides the important content for young professionals, there’s also the credit. In one place, you can earn numerous CPE credits and boost your value to your company. And as I mentioned above, networking—actually establishing relationships, face to face, with different people in all kinds of captive roles—is invaluable and has been sorely lacking these last few years. #VCIA2022 plans to fix that from the moment you arrive in Burlington.

At the cocktail reception for Captive Immersion, you can connect with some industry leaders and VCIA Board members. On Tuesday, check in at the Newcomers Orientation and a Conference Ambassador can give you tips on how to leverage your time at the conference. Then there’s the opening reception in the Exhibit Hall where everyone will be kicking off the week in good spirits. You can also participate in networking lunches and there’s plenty of space at the conference to set up private meetings. Finally, our evening reception at the snazzy Hotel Vermont will be special. It’s a farewell tribute to Dave Provost and anybody and everybody in the captive industry will be there.

So for young professionals, we want to make sure that you get the most out of the upcoming conference. Please seek out myself, other staff members and the VCIA board members and let us know how the event and the association can be more relevant to you as you grow within the industry. Many of you will attend with colleagues, but this is just a gentle hint to suggest that you step away from the people that you know and use the conference as your first and best opportunity to meet with and build relationships with others in the industry.

The VCIA Conference is helping usher in the next generation of captive professionals. We hope to see you in August

I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at the conference, and to hearing your aspirations for your career!

If you haven’t registered for the conference yet, you can do so here. And don’t forget to book your lodging and airfare, too!

Sandy Bigglestone: The Perfect Captive Successor to Dave Provost

Continuity. Experience. Expertise. 3 reasons (among many) for why Vermont is the Gold Standard for captive domicile decisions. The same 3 reasons describe Sandy Bigglestone, who this week was appointed as the new Deputy Commissioner of the Captive Insurance Division. Since the NBA Finals are underway, I’m inclined to say this is a slam dunk choice for everyone interested in captives in Vermont!

The Board, staff and members of the VCIA are delighted that Vermont Governor Phil Scott knew exactly where to turn to lead the division into a profitable future, and we join the entire industry, in Vermont and beyond, in congratulating Sandy. She is hardly a new face to the captive industry, and I hope that she will forgive me when I mention that she is 25 years into her career at the DFR. I said it once and I’ll say it again, Sandy will ensure stability, consistency, and quality that is the hallmark of regulation in Vermont, while also challenging staff and other stakeholders to develop and improve.

L to R: 2022 VCIA Conference Chair Ian Davis, appointed Deputy Commissioner Sandy Bigglestone, and retiring Deputy Commissioner Dave Provost

The upcoming VCIA conference from August 8 – 11 in Burlington offers a great chance for members and other stakeholders in the industry to meet up with Sandy and congratulate her. You can register for the conference here (and don’t forget to book your airfare and lodging soon, they go fast!) “Hot Topics with Dave Provost” on the last day of the conference, with incoming and outgoing Deputy Commissioners, will indeed be a hot ticket!

The upcoming VCIA conference from August 8 – 11 in Burlington offers a great chance for members and other stakeholders in the industry to meet up with Sandy and congratulate her.

Many major captive players enthusiastically received the news of Sandy’s appointment. Here are some snippets.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott: “Sandy has decades of experience in licensing and regulating captives in Vermont, the top domicile in the country. It made sense to look within for the best person to lead the industry and the obvious choice was Sandy.

Sandy’s soon-to-be predecessor Dave Provost: “Sandy will carry on the mission of the captive division and be a thoughtful regulator. She has the experience and skills and new ideas to help guide the industry forward.”

Mary Ellen Moriarty, VP of Property & Casualty at EIIA. “Sandy is a polished professional, goes the extra mile when necessary, and wants to see us thrive. She is the perfect person to guide Vermont.”

“Sandy is a natural leader, and we are happy to have her stepping into this role,” said Interim DFR Commissioner Kevin Gaffney.

Upwards and onwards to the Sandy Bigglestone and the Vermont Captive Industry…see you all in August!

A Captive Industry Icon Announces His Retirement

The State of Vermont’s Deputy Commissioner of the Captive Insurance Division is hanging up his gloves. Dave Provost leaves a permanent print on the robust infrastructure for domiciled captives in the Green Mountain State.

This week Vermont Captive Insurance set the captive world abuzz with a press release announcing Dave Provost’s retirement at the end of the summer. The Governor of Vermont Phil Scott could not sing Dave’s praise any higher by thanking him for “his immeasurable contribution to Vermonters and businesses around the world.” The Governor did pledge as well that Dave’s replacement would build on the “Gold Standard” for captives that Dave has helped create.

If you’ve been on the fence for registering for The VCIA Annual Conference August 8-11 in Burlington, Vermont, Dave’s news should get you over to attend. The conference will be a celebration of sorts for his career, and of course his insights during his “Hot Topics” on the last day of the conference is now simply a must see. Access Conference Registration here.

Mr. Captive himself, Dave Provost. Catch his last “Hot Topics” session at our Annual Conference this year.

I’m only three months on the job as VCIA’s President, and so it makes sense that I should be at the end of the line when it comes to reflecting on Dave Provost’s remarkable captive career. Nevertheless, as short as our relationship has been, we do make for a quick repartee pairing; it was only this Wednesday, during VCIA’s Spring Mixer, that Dave Provost shared his retirement news to the crowd. He was also quick to point out that I’m hitting my 100th day soon and that means my honeymoon phase will come to a firm end. This is true: Dave always has a joke in pocket.

The moment I met Vermont’s chief captive regulator it was instantly clear that his insights, approachable nature, and dedication to improving the captive industry are held in highest esteem and are things he deeply cares about. Dave Provost’s captive knowledge and technical and managerial skillsets will be major loses to recover, but it’s his dry wit and deadpan personality that most of us will miss just as much, if not more.

Dave Provost’s insights, approachable nature, and dedication to improving the captive industry are held in highest esteem and are things he deeply cares about.

Dave and some of his team in Vermont’s Senate Chamber

Dave achieved a lifetime of captive accomplishments during his 30 years of experience in the industry. He leaves the captive sector in Vermont (and beyond) larger, stronger and more visible than when he started. The VCIA, and indeed the whole captive insurance industry will miss Dave’s shrewd perspective, his fairness and his desire for effective and speedy advice and decisions. But mostly, the whole sector will just miss Dave. VCIA is honored to have his presence in his official capacity as Vermont’s chief captive regulator once last time this August. Let us toast to Dave!

Summer Conference Registration Opens!

Meticulously planning, securing keynotes and hammering out the schedule, we’ve waited all year for this and now the “gates are opened” for our first in-person conference in three years. We can’t wait to gather with the captive industry’s best and brightest this August in Burlington.

Our 2022 Conference is sure to be a memorable one!

We’re officially launched! Please visit our conference registration page to sign up for the biggest and strongest captive insurance event this summer on the global calendar. No matter your experience level, you will find so much in our conference that will develop you professionally and advance your career. We have a full slate of dynamic educational sessions, curated networking and benchmarking events, and an environment conducive for making business deals. Simply put, you are sure to add to you captive knowledge at the 2022 VCIA Conference, and more than that, it will be a triumphant celebration of the captive industry at large. Be sure to follow the #VCIA2022 hashtag on Twitter and LinkedIn.

I should mention (before I enlist you in another conference prize opportunity!) that I highly recommend booking your hotel and travel flight plans as soon as possible in order to avoid any complications. There are rooms still available at the VCIA group rate, but they are going fast, so head to our conference lodging page and be directed to local hotels who carry our group rate.

I’m a horse racing fan and I enjoy placing some modest bets down when I’m at the track. In that spirit, we are expecting a banner year, and as insurance professionals you are all concerned with risk and the odds that something might or might not occur. So, I introduce you to the VCIA version of ‘How Many Jelly Beans are in the Jar?’  I believe that our total attendance count will be 1,048. Are you taking that over or under? My guess includes exhibitors, staff and all classifications of attendees – i.e. anyone with a name badge! Let me know your number, and if I’m the closest, I will make a $50 personal donation to ICCIE (www.iccie.org), the captive insurance industry’s educational non-profit.  If someone beats me, I will make a $100 donation in their name!  We will, of course, also recognize the best prognosticator! Send your guesses to kmead@vcia.com

Need a little help to formulate your guess? Check out our Conference Attendee page to see who has already registered!

How many people will be in attendance at our conference? Take a guess and email Kevin!

See you in August – if not before! 

VCIA Staff Spotlight: Megan Precourt

The engine that makes VCIA run. Gatekeeper of conference registration. She can do it all and still finds time to do things she loves like hiking up a mountain or helping at her family farm. Meet VCIA’s Administrative Assistant, Megan Precourt

Along with industry-leading educational sessions and curated networking events, VCIA’s 37th Annual Conference is simply going to be blast. It will be a productive AND enjoyable time—guaranteed. That said, I have a couple of fun “branding” initiatives up my sleeve (after all, this will be my first conference as VCIA president, so I want to make it memorable!). Staff trivia will be one of them, so read this staff spotlight on our jack-of-all-trades Megan, and the three that went before her. Every staff member will be covered so you can get to know us better before our big summer event. We’ll pose some staff questions at the conference and if you get them right you could win a nice little gift!

If you’ve ever registered for a VCIA event or made further inquiries about the Association, you’ve probably been in contact with VCIA Administrative Assistant superstar Megan Precourt. Megan manages all facets of webinar, member mixer, and conference registrations, tracking important information for registrants, speakers, and VCIA Director of Education and Program Planning Diane Leach. Especially for our flagship event, Megan’s on the frontline of ensuring that attendees enjoy a smooth process of coming to our Annual Conference; she’ll likely be the first person you see when you come through the conference doors at the DoubleTree Burlington Hotel!

Megan manages all facets of webinar, member mixer, and conference registrations, tracking important information

Megan majored in International Studies at college, so it’s fitting that she’s had the “travel bug” all her life. She studied abroad in Australia for six months and France for a month, enjoying the different landscapes and cultures. After graduating, she even taught English for some time in the Czech Republic. Nevertheless, she cites her family bond as being most important, agreeing with the old adage “never shall I go any further than my own backyard.” She’s a native Vermonter and loves being in a close-knit family, one with agricultural roots. Her grandfather started raising a herd of Black Angus cows that the family continues to care for to this day.

Shelburne Farms and Shelburne Farms Inn…not too far from where The VCIA Conference takes place!

You might wonder, where is Megan’s favorite place in the world? Being a world traveler, might it be somewhere in Bali or Belgium? Nope, much closer! Megan: “my favorite place in entire world is Shelburne Farms. If I had to be in only one spot for the rest of my life it would be there. I’ve worked there at the educational farm barn and in the Inn. It’s a wonderful place to explore and I love the values Shelburne Farms practices.” Besides gearing up for VCIA’s Annual Conference, Megan’s goal in the coming months is to hike presidential range of the White Mountains with her two brothers.

Megan at the top of Rattlesnake Points Cliff in the autumn

Make sure to say hello to Megan at the next gathering! Stay tuned for another staff spotlight soon, and remember to take some notes so you can win a prize at the conference!

Registration opens May 16th!

VCIA Staff Spotlight: Dave Rapuano

Graphic Design extraordinaire. Fluent in all things tech. When he’s not making sure webinars are going smooth, you can find him on the slopes or playing volleyball. Meet VCIA’s Communications Assistant, Dave Rapuano

Along with industry-leading educational sessions and curated networking events, VCIA’s 37th Annual Conference is simply going to be blast. It will be a productive AND enjoyable time—guaranteed. That said, I have a couple of fun “branding” initiatives up my sleeve (after all, this will be my first conference as VCIA president, so I want to make it memorable!). Staff trivia will be one of them, so read this staff spotlight, the two that profiled myself and Francis McGill, and look out for the rest in the weeks to come. We’ll pose some staff questions at the conference and if you get them right you could win a nice little gift!

Dave Rapuano is the VCIA go-to person when troubleshooting a computer issue. An on-his-feet problem solver, he uses his background in digital media to help build a reliable and efficient ecosystem of VCIA’s online presence, whether that be our website, webinars, or the virtual conferences in 2020 and 2021.

An on-his-feet problem solver, VCIA staff member Dave Rapuano uses his background in digital media to help build a reliable and efficient ecosystem of VCIA’s online presence

Dave doing what he loves best!

A Connecticut native, he moved to the Green Mountain State to attend Champlain College and explore the bounty of outdoor activities available in Vermont. Snowboarder? Check. Hiker? Yup. He also coaches a high school varsity volleyball team. And what else? Dave is an avid fly fisherman! Ask where he’s favorite fishing spot is and he’ll tell you, “Camel’s hump way up high on a little creek catching beautiful wild brook trout.”

Make sure to say hello to Dave at the next gathering! Stay tuned for another staff spotlight soon, and remember to take some notes so you can win a prize at the conference!

Registration opens May 16th!

Staff Spotlight: Director of Communications Francis McGill

A newbie gardener. Film, music, and book enthusiast. When he’s not at work he’s probably changing a diaper. Meet VCIA’s Director of Communications, Francis McGill

As we approach the 2022 VCIA Conference, we are going to introduce you to VCIA staff. Of course, many ‘need no introduction,’ but with many new members and after two years away, it won’t hurt. So please get to know Francis. And do please play close attention, we there will be a quiz—I’m serious! At the conference we will ask a few questions about our staff and those who answer them correctly will be eligible to win a prize or two!

VCIA’s Director of Communications Francis McGill

Francis became VCIA’s Director of Communications in January 2022, and he’s pleased to play a role in creatively promoting VCIA values and programs. He’s especially enjoyed e-meeting so many folks in the industry and looks forward to solidifying those relationships come the VCIA Spring Mixer and at the Annual Conference. That captive insurance spans so many industries—from healthcare, to manufacturing and entertainment companies, to higher education, you name it!—has really sparked Francis’s interest in realizing how complex it is to safeguard employees and company property, among other things. Rarely thinking of insurance besides his healthcare and home and auto, he’s impressed now that there are so many different kinds that captives cover!

Francis has enjoyed e-meeting so many folks in the industry and looks forward to solidifying those relationships come the VCIA Spring Mixer and at the Annual Conference.

In his home life, Francis enjoys living in the “country” up near the Green Mountains with two cats, his wife, and their 6 month old son, Herschel. Francis and Charlotte are first time parents and have experienced the range of emotions that parenthood brings, from the tremendous excitement of seeing their boy roll over for the first time, to the tremendous fatigue of waking in the middle of the night to feed him, and then starting the day off bright and early at 5:30am. Herschel is their pride and joy, and yes, the cats are getting used to him, somewhat.

Francis lives somewhere up that road!

Fun facts about Francis

  • He and his wife grow vegetables in a greenhouse on their property; they are currently harvesting delicious spinach that overwintered
  • The last film he saw that made a powerful impression on him was The Power of The Dog, partly because of the cinematography and partly because of the amazing soundtrack (done by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood)
  • He reads for pleasure during the few minutes of free time he might have at the end of the day. He subscribes to Harper’s magazine and loves its high-quality writing. Especially for finance and insurance people, he recommends this fascinating and funny profile on the Bitcoin scene in Miami

All in all, communication matters most to Francis—how we share and what we share. He greatly appreciates that his role at VCIA allows him to learn so much about captive insurance while wordsmithing and designing communications in all kinds of forms that compel people to connect with and participate in the VCIA mission.

Make sure to say hello to him at the next gathering! Have an idea or want to just drop him a line? Email Francis at fmcgill@vcia.com. Stay tuned for another staff spotlight soon, and remember to take some notes so you can win a prize at the conference!

Registration opens May 16th!

Plan Ahead for VCIA’s August Conference

My crystal ball proved correct when I predicted Kansas to win the NCAA Basketball Tournament. My next fortune-telling stunt? I foresee airfare and lodging for our conference to be quite competitive, so book sooner rather than later!

The VCIA Conference is already cropping up on the horizon…

Anyone bet on Kansas based on my advice of last week? Turned out it was the opposite of a kiss of death: the Jayhawks beat Villanova in the Final Four and won a close game against the UNC Tar Heels in the championship! 

I usually have zero ability at this sort of thing, seriously, but I do have another tip for you as solid as the Jayhawks winning it all…

The 2022 VCIA Conference will be epic. I’ve heard from scores of people about how excited they are to return to Vermont. We are a small city (Burlington) and a small state with a big heart. Logistically that means there’s only a limited amount of lodging and airfare options, so it’s crucial you start making your plans quite soon. Some hotels are already fully booked, so follow this link to ensure you receive the conference hotel block discount.

The 2022 VCIA Conference will be epic. I’ve heard from scores of people about how excited they are to return to Vermont.

I would also suggest making airline reservations if you are coming in from out of town. Kayak, among a host of other sites, tracks all available flights to Burlington airport. Like with lodging, the sooner the better!

If you are not on our mailing list, visit our website and sign up through the mailing list pop up bar. You can also submit your information on our conference landing page at http://vcia22.live/bvt and you will be alerted to registration. Our May 16th registration is approaching fast and I encourage you to start putting your plans in place!

I’ve seen the demand to meet in person at other events, and listened to the members and stakeholders talking up our event. With my Kansas prediction, I’ve earned my chops as a fortune teller. This next bet is a bit of a no-brainer!

A Busy and Productive Week with VCIA

Captive Roadshow and Hot Topic Webinar Major Successes on Back-to-Back Days

2022 brings a wealth of enthusiasm and optimism not only for VCIA but for the entire captive industry. The major cause of this excitement derives from the simple fact that we are all getting together again. Catching up. Building out networks. Collaborating on new ideas. The possibilities are endless when we’re all in the same room. (Which is why we’re so thrilled to bring back our conference this August!)

It’s no small feat then, that this week VCIA’s returned with its first in-person Original Captive Roadshow since November 2019!  In Indianapolis on Tuesday an audience of over sixty professionals listened intently and asked great questions as a panel of Vermont industry experts (Sandy Bigglestone, Dave Provost, Brittany Nevins) enjoyed a captive conversation facilitated by Hylant’s Anne Marie Towle. The Vermont team outlined the process and structures of captives in Vermont and why captives can thrive in the Green Mountain State.

2022 brings a wealth of enthusiasm and optimism not only for VCIA but for the entire captive industry. The major cause of this excitement derives from the simple fact that we are all getting together again.

Following that, two captive owners Valynda Laird and Will Lehman explained their business case and development of their own entities that have done so well due to captive formation.  The feedback was very positive and we are already deep in planning for the next two. The Big Apple just might be seeing our Roadshow before the year lets out.

A great turnout it Indy

Not forgetting our Hot Topic Webinar series, the very next day our March webinar had a similar number of attendees for a great session on Strategic Planning for Captive Optimization and Future Success. Many thanks to the erudite panelists, and the State of Vermont’s own Christine Brown who moderated the talk.

These events and others, both online and in-person, have served us well as we identify in-demand topics and exceptional presenters for our August 2022 conference. We are about 6 weeks away from registration, but you can get a ‘sneak peak’ of the entire schedule and sign up for more info at VCIA.com.

Cheers to you, captive learning, and captive collaboration. Happy spring!

Captive Insurance and Rugby: Staff Spotlight on President Kevin Mead

Captive Insurance is a bit like rugby. Let me tell you why.

Just three weeks in, and I have quickly learned some truths about the captive insurance industry. Truth number one: how badly it is understood by those outside. Even those that have a knowledge of risk or insurance sometimes seem to shake their heads and mutter darkly when the subject is raised. Truth number two: that external lack of knowledge (or potentially confusion) means that the industry itself is tight knit, cooperative, and friendly.

Over 25 years ago, authors Adam Brandenburger and Barry Nalebuff co-authored a book called Co-Opetition in which they used game theory to suggest that businesses should cooperate to “grow the size of the pie,” and then compete for a larger slice of that enlarged pie.  Seeing the way in which board members and other VCIA volunteers are working together for the benefit of the association and for the industry is almost a case study in what the authors refer to.

“Real success comes from actively shaping the game you play—from making the game you want, not taking the game you find.”

― Barry J. Nalebuff, Co-Opetition

A second thing that has struck me is the number of rugby people there are in the captive industry. And there are similarities! To the uninitiated, rugby looks dangerous, risky, and somewhat unmanaged. To those that know the game, it is subtle, nuanced, athletic, and referred to as “the game they play in heaven.” On the field, rugby players are intensely competitive, but once the final whistle blows the bruises and battles are forgotten and a spirit of camaraderie and mutual support comes to the fore.

So, rugby as a metaphor for captive insurance? Perhaps that is too much of a reach! But my predecessor, Rich Smith, commented to me multiple times that the essence of the VCIA was built around mutual respect, understanding, and a sense of all being in the same league—if not all on the same team.

For me, rugby season is about to start up. This Saturday, the 19th, I will be refereeing at a tournament put on by the University of Vermont women in Burlington. Feel free to check this out or any rugby game in your location and see if my comments on the similarities hold any water!