ICCIE is hot
Program attracts students from around the world
By Michael J. Moody, MBA, ARM
New educational endeavors typically open to mixed reviews. This is particularly true in the insurance industry where new educational programs are introduced constantly. So it is noteworthy when one of these specialty programs has a great track record in its second year. Such is the case with the program offered by the International Center for Captive Insurance Education (ICCIE). ICCIE has developed an industry-specific educational program that leads to an Associate in Captive Insurance (ACI) designation.
A long-time problem for the captive industry has been finding qualified staff to support the increasing growth of these alternative market solutions. For the most part, the major learning process has been on-the-job training, which tends to stretch scarce resources too far to be effective. The Vermont Captive Insurance Association (VCIA) has been painfully aware of this industry shortcoming for quite some time. Over the past five years, VCIA began to make plans to resolve it; and two years ago, it introduced the ICCIE program.
One of the first orders of business for VCIA was to develop a captive insurance education program that would be domicile neutral. They realized early on that in order to have the broad appeal that they were looking for, the program would need to be designed to meet the needs of all domiciles, so a universal, generic approach to the curriculum was taken. So far this has proven to be a great decision since the program now has 157 students who come from around the world. ICCIE has students from 33 states, Canada, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, St. Kitts, United Kingdom, Switzerland and Dubai.
Part of the reason for this widespread acceptance, according to Mitch Cantor, executive director of ICCIE, is that they have worked to make the program easily available over the Internet. “Being able to complete the program online is a big plus for those who cannot get to the classes,” says Cantor. Noting the current enrollment, Cantor says that one of the most gratifying things is, “the broad base of occupations represented.” Among the current crop of enrollees are captive owners, captive managers, regulators, attorneys, investment professionals and other service providers. In general, Cantor says, it’s “a strong mix of occupations and geographic locations.”
The ICCIE program consists of five core courses that include the following:
1. An Introduction to Alternative Risk Financing Mechanisms—an understanding of the purpose of alternative risk transfer (ART), which is to find more efficient ways of financing risks.
2. Understanding Risks and Risk Retention Mechanisms—understanding the elements of risk that must be present if risk is to be managed using an insurance mechanism, and how insurance differs from other risk financing mechanisms.
3. Protecting the Captive: Predicting Risk, Reinsurance and Other Transfer Mechanisms—how a captive uses reinsurance to protect itself from expected high-severity or high-frequency losses and leverages its capital to earn underwriting income.
4. Forming and Operating a Captive—explores the legal environment facing captive insurance companies and addresses factors that directly impact the formation of new captives and those that may impact the ongoing effectiveness of captives as risk management tools.
5. Business Ethics in the Captive Insurance Industry—focuses on legal and ethical issues related to business practices in the captive insurance industry.
Over and above the five core courses noted above, students are also required to take two elective courses, notes Cantor. ICCIE has established a variety of electives that are offered by either the American Institute of Charter Property Casualty Underwriters (AICPCU) or the Insurance Education Association. In addition, Cantor says, ICCIE is in the process of developing its own elective courses. He believes that they will be able to offer one or two of their own electives in 2007. Cantor also notes that a student may substitute a real world work project for one of the electives, subject to ICCIE approval.
The final element for the ACI designation is that a student must complete three “Hot Topic” teleconferences that are offered periodically during the year. ICCIE selects the subject matter for these “Hot Topics” based on industry trends, and they will vary from year to year.
What has been most gratifying for Cantor is the support from the industry. “It has been fantastic,” he says. Growth of the board from other geographic areas is evidence of the universal appeal of the ICCIE program. And, according to Cantor, the board has been very helpful with a number of suggestions and ideas.
Cantor indicated that one of ICCIE’s newest initiatives was the result of a suggestion of one of the board members, Tom Jones of McDermott Will & Emery LLP. Jones’ suggestion involved establishing an advisory counsel made up of various captive regulators. Called the Captive Regulators Advisory Counsel, the program will allow regulators to review the course content, but the process is open ended. Cantor notes that the views of board members “are valued since they are such an important part of the industry,” so their input regarding any aspect of the program would be actively considered. ICCIE has requested involvement from most of the major captive domiciles and, thus far, has obtained agreement from the vast majority.
One of the other favorable developments has been the strong endorsement ICCIE has received from several domiciles. Such was the case with the Cayman Islands, where Cantor was requested to meet with the domicile regulators. After that meeting, a session was scheduled with the captive managers association where ICCIE was able to gain a strong endorsement from the group. Subsequent to the meetings, Cantor says, the Cayman Islands has had “good healthy enrollment this year.”
At last year’s VCIA conference, ICCIE was able to introduce David “Lucky” Lippa as receiving the first ACI designation. Already this year, seven additional ACI designations have been earned and will be awarded at the conference. But that’s only part of the news, according to Cantor. He says that there are also 30 other students who have only one more class left to complete. “We are trying to have most of them complete their course work by the VCIA conference, so we can honor them as well.”
It’s clear from the early success of the ICCIE program that it fills a long-standing need within the captive industry. It is also clear from the strong support that the program has been able to garner from so many domiciles that it was designed with the industry’s needs in mind. Anyone who is active in the captive industry or considering employment in the captive industry should investigate the benefits of obtaining the Associate in Captive Insurance designation, because it will soon become the industry standard. *