Annual event offers captive insurance insight for agents
For more than 30 years, insurance professionals have come to northern Vermont each summer to take part in the Vermont Captive Insurance Association (VCIA) annual conference. What’s the draw? First of all, it’s northern Vermont—one of the most beautiful places in the country. Second, it’s summer—and Vermont summer weather is picture-perfect. Most important, it’s an event put on by VCIA—the largest association in the world for captives and a group that’s continually finding ways to improve the captive insurance business.
The first VCIA annual conference took place in 1985, when Vermont’s captive business was just getting started. Attendance for that event: less than a dozen people. Fast forward to 2017, and some 1,100 professionals from around the globe will descend on Burlington, the state’s largest city, for two and a half days of top-notch captive insurance education. Attendees can take part in any level of learning—from introductory material to advanced sessions covering complex topics.
The event has grown so large that it’s held at two venues—the Sheraton Burlington Hotel and the University of Vermont Davis Center—which are located a half-mile or so apart. Newcomer orientation takes place on the morning of August 8, with sessions being offered the rest of the day. More classes are held on Wednesday and on Thursday morning. The conference closes with a luncheon keynote presentation by Matthew Luhn, Pixar story creator.
Attendees will learn why captives are formed; how to assess feasibility, including selecting specialists; how the formation process works; and what to expect in the first few years of forming and operating a captive.
In all, more than two dozen educational sessions—of varying lengths and formats—will be presented during the event. Some sessions are designed for those new to captive insurance, and others are directed at those involved in accounting and finance, operations, and risk management. Forums will be offered specifically for captive owners.
Many presenters and panelists are captive owners, which will allow attendees to learn from their first-hand experience. Professional credits (CPE, CLE, and ICCIE) are offered to those who attend the sessions.
Tuesday topics range from “Benchmarking: Gathering Valuable Intel” and “Operation RRG: Issues of the Day,” which looks at risk retention groups, to more advanced sessions like “Getting the Most From Your Actuary” and “Expanding Your Captive Business Plan.”
Appropriately, “Captives 101: Where the Mission Begins” starts right when the newcomers’ orientation concludes on Tuesday morning. The session will feature an interactive panel discussion that will deliver foundational knowledge and perspective to potential and new captive owners and those new to the industry.
Individuals who are considering forming a captive or who have a newly formed captive should definitely plan to attend. Attendees will learn why captives are formed; how to assess feasibility, including selecting specialists; how the formation process works; and what to expect in the first few years of forming and operating a captive.
Also on Tuesday morning, “Captive Governance Best Practices: Ethics, Conflicts of Interest and More” will offer an overview of legal requirements and practical considerations for governing a captive, including resolution of ethical issues and conflicts of interest that may arise for those who serve on a captive board. The seminar will include a report on the governance experiences of a featured captive and will offer insight regarding indicators that regulatory examiners consider to ensure that a captive is being governed properly.
Wednesday sessions will address topics that range from cyber insurance and autonomous vehicles and their impact to group and association captives and, in a multi-session offering, the use of healthcare benefits captives. After classes, the morning will end with a general session that will feature awards and a keynote speaker. Invited speakers include Vermont’s governor, Phil Scott, and Vermont Congressman Peter Welch.
Of interest to independent agents and brokers will be an afternoon session, “Secret Agent(cy) Man,” that will provide details about Vermont’s newest captive structure, the agency captive, also known as “agency-owned captive” and “producer-owned captive.”
Attendees will be able to explore the opportunities provided by this new captive structure, guided by two of the individuals who were involved in steering the law through the legislature earlier this year. The session is designed to help participants understand how they might use an agency captive in their management of risk and expansion of business models, for themselves or their clients.
Case studies from agency captives will be explored. Areas for discussion will include specific uses, compliance concerns, and best practices for a smooth formation and licensure.
Packed half day
Thursday morning will begin with a session titled “Hot Topics with David Provost: The Year Never Dies.” Provost, Vermont’s deputy insurance commissioner, described as having a wealth of knowledge and wit, will host the session, which will examine developments in captive regulation and practice. Provost will be joined by four other panelists.
- Other morning sessions will include:
- The Art of Negotiating, a basic-level class that will explain how to evaluate all sides of a transaction and succinctly state one’s point of view.
- Optimizing Your Captive’s Risk Profile, an intermediate-level offering that will explore ways to ascertain, measure, and enhance the ongoing captive value proposition.
- Reinventing Your Captive for Maximum Results, an advanced-level class that will explain how to enhance the use of an existing captive by adding new coverages.
- Healthcare Captive Forum: Industry Challenges will examine captive-related business issues specific to the ever-changing healthcare marketplace.
- Innovative Spotlight: Using Technology to Mitigate Risk, an intermediate-level panel discussion of tech advances and how they can be used to address risk.
The conference will end with a luncheon that will feature keynote speaker Matthew Luhn, an original story creator at Pixar Animation Studios. He will recount the journey of Pixar and present strategies for creating a culture that encourages new ideas and that embraces fear and failing as a necessary part of the creative process.
More than learning
The Vermont Captive Insurance Association offers more than just education. The event provides numerous opportunities for networking with other captive insurance professionals from around the world.
The conference will feature an exhibit area where nearly 100 companies will offer information and resources designed to address important captive-related issues. For newcomers—and for seasoned vets with questions—the association will have a number of “ambassadors” available on site.
Visit www.vcia.com for more information or to register for the conference.
By Dave Willis, CPIA