Have You Been to Vermont in August? VCIA’s Annual Conference Is Back In-Person this Summer
So inundated are we with Zoom calls, web meetings and virtual life that it becomes almost celebratory when we get to meet in person.
And it should be a celebration!
For two years, society, and subsequently the insurance industry, has heeded the guidance of world health organizations and practiced social distancing to curb the spread of illness.
But now, with more and more vaccinated and boosted every day, things are opening up, and the Vermont Captive Insurance Association (VCIA) is thrilled to be back in-person this August.
“Everybody’s excited to be able to come back together this year, to pick up the value and the networking opportunities beyond the virtual world we’ve been in for a couple of years,” said Andrew Baillie, program director, global insurance at The AES Corporation, and the recently elected VCIA board chair.
“As a captive owner, my responsibility is to find the best way to do things for my company and the way you do that is by finding new ideas. And VCIA is the conference where I come to do it.”
It’s a sentiment that rings true for many in the captive space: The VCIA is the place to be for the latest in captive innovation. For four days, from Aug. 8 through 11, captive owners will meet in Burlington, Vt. to collaborate once again.
“I’m excited about physically seeing and collaborating with my colleagues, industry peers and fellow captive owners,” said Gail Newman, VP of risk management, Bright Horizons, and a new VCIA board member.
“These professionals who gather each year have some of the deepest knowledge when it comes to navigating captives and are genuinely helpful individuals who want to see everyone find the best solutions.”
Past, Present, Future: Steadfast and Strong
The VCIA was formed in 1985 by captive managers and attorneys to promote captive insurance in Vermont as a growing business. In its infancy, the role of the VCIA president wasn’t considered a full-time job, in fact operating on a volunteer basis. But as the VCIA grew, so too did the need to have someone overseeing its many facets each day.
Stepping into the role of president in February 2022, Kevin Mead shared insight on what he hopes his presidency will look like.
“After two years of not being together, we’ve got to be really intentional about going out to the members and saying, ‘What drives value for your organization?’ And we could go back to doing everything that we did two years ago, but we need to consider if everything we did before still makes sense now, and we already have several innovations in the works,” he said.
The pandemic caused a shift for many in the industry, and as Mead relayed, VCIA had its work cut out. But the team behind the organization shined through. 2020 and 2021 both hosted virtual conference events for attendees, showcasing some of the brightest and best in captive solutions.
For Mead, three major themes are shaping the VCIA this year as he starts in his presidency role.
“Stability is a big one,” he said.
“As the organization switched into COVID-ready mode, we are focused on remaining stable through the transition to this next stage of the pandemic. Then innovation, both in terms of what the regulators are doing and in terms of what the VCIA is doing in service to members. And then the third one is professionalism. We’re the only state-based association with a fulltime staff. Our competitive edge is the expertise of our regulators.”
What’s in Store This August
The VCIA team is more than excited to share its stability, innovation and professionalism with the captive world at large. This year, the conference boasts several sessions bound to give captive managers valuable information they can sink their teeth into.
To kick things off, the Captive Immersion Preconference Workshop is set to start at 1:00 p.m. August 8, wherein professionals new to the captive industry get to familiarize themselves with key services and stakeholders. Captive feasibility, formation and management are main discussion points.
“Just prior to COVID, we put on this pre-conference Captive Immersion for the first time,” Mead explained. Legal, auditing, actuaries, asset managers and more were in attendance, giving participants a look at the responsibilities of each sector of the industry, as well as innovations happening across the board.
“It’s a session for those new to captives and for those looking for a refresher in the industry,” said Mead.
A VCIA favorite, “Hot Topics with Dave Provost” is back this year, starting at 8:30 a.m. August 11.
Provost’s talk covers recent hot issues in captives as well as a panel discussion on happenings impacting the industry now and looking ahead.
Provost, deputy commissioner, Vermont Captive Insurance, hinted at some of the topics to be discussed: “We had such an extended soft market, and you saw that drop off a little bit, but a refreshed hard market turned right around with a lot of growth [for captives] and no drop off. That’s definitely one of our hot topics.”
“What’s happened in the insurance market over the last couple of years has opened such an opportunity and interest [for captives],” added Baillie. “The insurance market wasn’t responding to the needs of clients, and captives became a place for them to go.”
Baillie and Provost both said meeting new captive owners and bringing together managers from around the world is the most exciting part of the in-person event. Owner roundtables at VCIA are ripe with chances to network, share ideas and look at solutions on a granular, in-depth level together. Networking will be in full swing.
“The owner roundtables will feel like reunions,” Provost said. “And we’ll get to talk in person and help answer some of the questions people have had over the last two years” that couldn’t be fully addressed over virtual meetings.
VCIA will keep the celebration going beyond the conference, with a roadshow in Indianapolis this spring and plans to make it to Mexico City in 2023 — a trade mission rescheduled twice due to the pandemic.
Finding Home in Vermont
Vermont is the largest onshore captive domicile, with over 1,200 captives licensed to date, and so it is no wonder the VCIA finds its home in the state.
“We rely on the feedback from the VCIA and its members in everything we do,” said Provost. “Having an infrastructure right here in Vermont of expert service providers, the vast majority members of VCIA, is vital to what makes Vermont the ‘Gold Standard’ of captive insurance regulation.”
“There is a uniqueness about the collaborative dynamic that the VCIA and Vermont Captives embody in their long-standing relationship,” said Newman.
“As a captive owner I always sensed this through the support received from VCIA, but as a newly-minted VCIA board member, I now not only can see the benefits of this partnership as a captive owner, but I also have a far greater insight into all the great work these two teams do together.” &