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!

Captive Madness

NCAA Forms a Captive— in Vermont!

Many Vermonters in the captive industry might have had an NCAA bracket that had UVM going all the way. Locals supporting locals is what we do here. Sadly, Arkansas stood in their way, and UVM came up a little short in the first round. They didn’t bust the nation’s brackets, but there were other perpetrators—I’m looking at you, Saint Peters Peacocks. The absence of the Catamounts from the Final Four makes it no less intriguing, but you might wonder, where’s the link with VCIA and captive insurance?

The Vermont Captive Insurance Industry is a Powerhouse Program

The answer lies in the fact that the NCAA, perhaps mindful of the hit that their marquee event took in 2020 and 2021, recently formed a captive, and not only that, but they have made its domicile in the Green Mountain State. Vermont’s most popular (and free) newspaper, Seven Days reports that the captive activated at the start of March and could “potentially save the association millions of dollars.” Taking on both D & O and event cancellation coverage, the entity has been funded with $175M, and will be consolidated into the financial statements of the NCAA.

The pandemic has raised the profile of Vermont’s captive insurance industry as more businesses have sought to self-insure, according to state officials.

ANNE WALLACE ALLEN, Seven Days

While the University of Vermont will not be crowned winners after this upcoming Monday’s championship, the State of Vermont surely won an impactful and lasting relationship with the National Collegiate Athletic Association. VCIA is happy to announce that their captive formation has joined our association on a free, first year trial basis.

My prediction for the Final Four winner (which is the sporting equivalent of a kiss of death)? Kansas Jayhawks. Who do you have?

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! 

Announcing the 2nd Keynote Speaker for our August Conference

Enjoy political thrillers? Then you will need to hear from Michael Weidokal, founder of International Strategic Analysis, at the VCIA Conference!

These days, it’s an understatement to say global geopolitical stability is being challenged—look no further than Ukraine. I often find it difficult keeping up with intricate and sometime disparate elements that bear consequences not just worldwide, but at home. Which is why I’m proud to announce that VCIA has secured a second keynote speaker for our conference in August—Michael Weidokal, founder of International Strategic Analysis, and a shrewd economic and political forecaster. His lecture will be timelier and more relevant than ever.

Founder of International Strategic Analysis and VCIA Conference Keynote Speaker Michael Weidokal

I’ve used Michael as a speaker three times in my career, and I kept coming back to him because he consistently received top marks from audience feedback. I think what makes him so effective is his facility at explaining and distilling global structural challenges, their historical backgrounds, and their potential economic fallout. To put it in a nutshell: Michael combines economic theory and geopolitical situations, rendering them into a real-life political thriller, all the while predicting, with sufficient evidence, how they impact you and your business. You will be both intrigued and informed—hallmarks of a successful and worthwhile keynote address.

Michael combines economic theory and geopolitical situations, rendering them into a real-life political thriller… while predicting… how they impact you and your business.

His deeply researched and vetted lecture, “Global Economic and Risk Outlook,” draws interest from many different industries and conference circuits. According to Michael’s website, the general theme of his speech investigates “factors that are driving or hindering economic growth in the United States and in all of the world’s major economies.” Utilizing the latest data and current events, Michael will provide VCIA Conference attendees “an in-depth analysis of all of the important issues and trends that will impact their activities in domestic and international markets, both in the year ahead and over the long-term.”  

We can’t wait for you to meet Michael Weidokal, and he’s excited too. Learning that our conference is the premier event of the captive industry, he added to me in an email, “I very much look forward to speaking at this year’s VCIA conference!”

Don’t forget he’s the second of two outstanding keynote speakers we now have. The inimitable Admiral Michelle Howard, the first woman in the U.S. Navy’s 236-year history to be promoted to four-star admiral who achieved the second highest-ranking in the service, will share her experiences and insights on national security, leadership, risk, and much more.

VCIA’s 37th Annual Conference Distinguished Keynote, Admiral Michelle Howard

If these two won’t get you to come to our first, in-person conference in three years, what will? I guarantee you amazing and topical presentations, plus wonderful networking and business development opportunities.  I also guarantee you the pleasures of summer in Burlington, Vermont—stunning views of Lake Champlain, the festive atmosphere of Church Street, and quick access away to the lush Green Mountains and the great outdoors. A perfect destination for you and your family.

Registration opens May 16th.

Water, Sun, Mountains, and Captive Insurance…

See you at CICA

Today I will be hopping on a plane destined for the southwest; Tucson, Arizona, to be exact – where CICA’s 2022 International Conference will be taking place. In span of just a few weeks, I will have attended the World Captive Forum in Miami and now CICA. It’s hardly been a gradual easing into the position of President of VCIA; rather the opposite: I’ve jumped in and enjoyed every moment of it.

With our affable Director of Membership Janice Valgoi, I spent my days in Miami meeting many wonderful folks who make the captive industry what it is. Perhaps more importantly, I was able to carefully listen to their concerns and hopes for the state of captive insurance in 2022. I also participated in Captive 101, something VCIA will feature in its Conference this August. The course in Miami was engaging and informative. A “brains trust’’ (including Vermont’s own Dave Provost) did their utmost to make captives intelligible to those of us who are new arrivals. Any lack of understanding was my fault, not theirs!

Learning from the greats at the World Captive Forum: Dave Provost, and VCIA Board Chair Andrew Baillie

Now, having World Captive Forum in the rear view, I look forward to CICA with even more enthusiasm. In Miami, it was tremendously energizing and delightful to be with people in person again, and I was warmly welcomed by so many important makers and doers within the captive industry, some of whom have decades of institutional knowledge and experience! Many thanks to the State of Vermont’s Dave Provost and his team for hosting us at their World Captive booth.

it was tremendously energizing and delightful to be with people in person again, and I was warmly welcomed by so many important makers and doers within the captive industry

I’m Irish, and so I will cheerfully enjoy the Craft Brewery Tour during the CICA event. I hope we can raise a glass together and get to know each other. I look forward to making strong professional connections and learning more about the intricacies of captive insurance in the process. So, please, do reach out at the conference, and see you at CICA!

Finally, all connected with the VCIA are looking forward to welcoming you back to Burlington in August after a two-year virtual hiatus.  Bigger, better and stronger – please come and celebrate VCIA’s 37th Annual Conference! Registration opens May 16th.


Kevin Mead became the President of VCIA in February 2022. Send him a greetings or open up a conversation with him at kmead@vcia.com

Welcome, Kevin!

Earlier this month you met our new Communications Director, Francis McGill. Now I would like to take the opportunity to introduce my replacement as President of VCIA, Kevin Mead!

Kevin Mead, new VCIA President

As you may have seen in our announcement earlier this week, Kevin brings a boatload of skills in association management and financial wherewithal based on his experience running a number of associations. (Click here for the official announcement.)

Kevin is a unique fellow: he lives in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom (the most rural part of our rural state), has a British accent, and loves rugby. But more than that, I got to know Kevin over the past few months, and he is truly a nice, decent human being – someone who will fit right into the captive insurance family.

Holding two master’s degrees related to association management and finance, Kevin is the perfect candidate to lead VCIA, build out the captive industry’s flagship conference, increase VCIA membership and membership value, while evolving the organization amid the current pandemic and economic challenges. Above all, he is a true “people’s person.” Our staff is thrilled to have him on board and I know he will make many meaningful and productive relationships with our members.

Although his official start date is February 22nd, Kevin has been hard at work absorbing all things captive insurance and VCIA over the past few weeks. He will be traveling to Miami for the World Captive Forum with VCIA’s own Janice Valgoi and the incredible team from the State of Vermont, so, if you are going to be there, please take the time to reach out and introduce yourself.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Hail to 40 Years!

Vermont’s 40th anniversary year of the inception of its captive industry is drawing to a close. Since 1981, Vermont has worked hard to be the top U.S. domicile and continues to strive for excellence. Currently, VCIA is working with Dave Provost and Sandy Bigglestone and their team at DFR to build another captive bill to be introduced into Vermont’s General Assembly.

Over the past two years of COVID challenges, the Gold Standard has never been so apropos as Vermont lead the captive insurance industry in incredible growth and resiliency. I could not be prouder to be a part of this great work.

Brittany Nevins, in her role as Captive Insurance Economic Development Director, has put together a terrific short film highlighting relationships, accomplishments, future goals—and really what it means to be part of the Vermont captive family. I hope you will watch and encourage you to share.

Stay well and see you soon!

Rich Smith,
VCIA President

More Affirmation

Not a surprise to those of us in the captive insurance industry to see the 2021 Captive Benchmarking Survey from Aon highlighting that captive insurance growth is occurring at a level not seen in two decades.  Price increases in primary insurance markets over the past two years have led captive insurance company owners to retain more risk as they look to maintain appropriate levels of coverage while controlling costs.

You only need to talk to the many VCIA members providing services to captives to see how busy they all are. And talking to Dave Provost at Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation confirms the report. Last year saw a big spike in captive formations and it looks like they are on track for a bigger year for 2021.

Aon’s report said that since 2018 they have seen a 73 percent increase in premium retention among the captives it manages. The types of risk covered have grown to include risks that are difficult to place or emerging perils, such as cyber and environmental.  According to the report, over the past 5 years Aon has seen a 650 percent increase in cyber-insurance premiums in captives, while environmental risks have seen a 400 percent premium increase since 2018.

In addition, AM Best released a report in August showing that the operating performance of rated U.S. captive insurance companies continued to surpass that of their commercial market peers in 2020. The captive insurance industry has shown its colors in these trying times over the past few years. It will only pay dividends for their owners in the years to come.

I look forward to seeing many of you at our in-person VCIA Mixers and other events beginning this October.  Until then, stay well!

Rich Smith, President, VCIA

The Closer

Don’t miss the VCIA Conference Aug 10 – 12! Panelists for the ‘Hot Topics with Dave Provost’ session, from L to R: Tracy Hassett, Steve Legg, Sandy Bigglestone, Ellen Charnley and Dave Provost

OK, enough with the procrastination! The VCIA Annual Conference starts August 10th, and because it is virtual, folks tend to wait until the last minute to sign up. I understand! But online registration for the event closes Monday at noon – so NOW is the perfect time!  

Besides all the great educations and networking opportunities, the one event during the conference that everyone waits for is Hot Topics with Dave Provost. For those few of you who don’t know Dave, he is the preeminent captive insurance regulator in the world (don’t take my word for – ask anyone) and his knowledge, experience, and sense of humor, provides just the right closing to our much-anticipated captive conference.

The distinguished group joining Dave (see photo above) are Sandy Bigglestone, Vermont’s Director of Captive Insurance (and Dave’s right hand woman).  In 2018, Sandy was a recipient of the Women to Watch Award for her leadership, expertise, and accomplishments in the captive insurance industry by Business Insurance. Ellen Charnley, President of Marsh’s Captive Solutions Practice, is recognized as a global leader in the captive industry. And, Steve Legg, who has been with Starbucks since 1997, serving as director, risk management since 2006. Aptly moderated by VCIA board member, Tracy Hassett, President and CEO of edHEALTH, a first of its kind consortium of colleges and universities with the mission of reducing health care costs while enhancing consumer knowledge of options, plan design, disease management and wellness programs.

This epic group will get you totally up to speed on current developments in captive regulation, key issues facing the industry, future initiatives, increased interest in captives as a response to challenging markets, and much more. You can even ask them questions and provide comments of your own. Don’t miss it!  

So, take this moment to register for VCIA 2021!  Join these experts  and other audience members and share your experience and insight to make the conference even better. YOU are what makes this event incredible!  Check it out here and Register Now!

I look forward to seeing you next week!

Rich Smith, VCIA President