2012 Vermont Captive Insurance Association Special Section
VCIA offers valuable education and networking sessions
By Michael J. Moody, MBA, ARM
The Vermont Captive Insurance Association's (VCIA) 27th annual conference, which meets in Burlington, will be held August 7-9, 2012. This year's conference theme is "Vermont Captives: Making the Right Call." As in years past, Burlington becomes the captive capital of the world during the first few days in August. For many captive owners and service providers, the VCIA annual conference is one of the must-attend industry events each year. Richard Smith, president of the VCIA, notes that this year's conference is expected to draw another record-breaking crowd.
The event officially kicks off with the annual Vermont Captive Open, held at the Vermont National Country Club. Like many of the other events scheduled during the conference, the golf tournament is an excellent networking opportunity for attendees. Concurrent with the golf tournament are a number of education sessions which are held at the University of Vermont's Davis Center. The Davis Center is located just a couple of blocks from the Sheraton Hotel, which is the host hotel. A number of the sessions are specially designed for new attendees.
Among the sessions that Smith suggests for "first timers" is the newcomer orientation session, which will provide an overview of all the conference has to offer. In addition, he says, the Captives 101 and Captives 102 sessions are great for those who are new to captives. The 101 session is primarily directed at captive basics, while the 102 session is designed to provide information regarding basic tax information. Other first-day sessions include "Making a Game Plan," which will help a captive establish "best practice policies and procedures." Smith also notes a new session this year, titled "MMSEA Section 111: Conquering the Compliance Headaches." The session is primarily directed at Medicare's new reimbursement provisions and how they will affect the insurance industry in general and captives and self-insureds in particular.
One of the sessions that the VCIA introduced last year and which got rave reviews was the mini Board Boot Camp. Smith says that in general, board members may understand their role, but some are not "aware of the intricacies of the job of board member for a captive insurance company. There are so many moving parts," he says. "Board members from last year's session were happy to learn more about how a captive actually operated." This year's session, titled "Building Board of Directors' Bench Strength," is scheduled for August 7 at the Davis Center. Smith points out that if a captive has board members attending, they should be encouraged to attend this session.
Another session that Smith says has received excellent reviews focuses on unbundling captive services. This session gives captive owners insight into how to best build their own captive team. The presentation will provide attendees with a better understanding of the professional expertise and standards of excellence available in the captive marketplace.
The final session of the day is a peer-to-peer forum which Smith points out is limited to captive owners only. The session will be held at the Sheraton Hotel.
The final event scheduled for the first day is the opening reception with exhibitors scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The reception will be held in the exhibit hall at the Sheraton Hotel. Smith notes that this has traditionally been one of the best networking opportunities at the conference, where both attendees and exhibitors can meet and greet each other in a relaxed atmosphere.
Wednesday's sessions begin with breakfast and the annual members-only meeting which includes a legislative update. At the conclusion of the members-only meeting, the general session will get underway and welcoming information will be provided. Presentation of the Captive Crusader, Honorary Member and Industry Service awards will be made during this session. Keynote speaker at the session is Dr. David Kelly, chief market strategist for J.P. Morgan Funds. He will provide comments on the recent financial markets turmoil.
The afternoon sessions are designed around several more advanced topics. Smith says that feedback from prior years indicated that additional educational sessions would be helpful. Thus the VCIA added several new sessions to the schedule and in doing so increased the number of sessions from 13 to 18. One of the new sessions focuses on advanced taxation; another examines claims analysis and data sources. A panel of captive experts will provide examples of the various types of cell formations during a session titled "A League of Their Own."
One of the highlights of the afternoon sessions, Smith points out, deals with how to include employee benefits in captive insurance companies. The session will include a discussion by both the risk manager and human resource director for YKK Zipper Company which recently received Department of Labor approval for including employee benefits within their captive insurance company. Participants in this presentation will specifically address, via a case study approach, how YKK was able to break down any walls that existed within the corporation and successfully implemented a captive strategy. Smith says this session will provide valuable how-to information from people who actually did the work.
Sessions on Wednesday's schedule conclude with a captive owner roundtable which is limited to captive owners only. There is also a group captive roundtable session that will also be limited to captive owners.
According to Smith, "These roundtables are an opportunity for captive owners to discuss and explore the unique issues and challenges of the day." He also notes that they have proven very popular with the VCIA members.
One of the highlights of Thursday's agenda, Smith says, is a presentation led by David Provost, Vermont's deputy commissioner of captive insurance. During this "Hot Topics" session, Provost will discuss current trends and challenges faced by all captives in general, but more specifically Vermont captives. He will cover any unique features of the Vermont legislation as well as any impending changes. An additional session will be provided on a topic that's getting a great deal of attention with regard to risk retention groups and the "Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act" which is to be implemented later this year. Another interesting session pointed out by Smith is the "Top 10 Risks and Opportunities" faced by captives and how they can be resolved. Another Thursday morning session will explore trends in investments and the all-important investment income derived from captive insurance companies. Additionally there is a forum on health care reform which will be of interest to health care captive insurance companies.
The final event at this year's VCIA conference is a luncheon keynote address by NFL Referee Ed Hochuli, in which he will provide insight into both NFL refereeing as well as risk management-related topics. This year's annual conference ends at two o'clock on Thursday, thus allowing attendees to head home a little earlier than they had in prior years.
The Vermont Captive Insurance Association's annual conference has grown each year. Now in its 27th year it promises to be another event with excellent educational opportunities, as well as the chance to catch up with friends and business associates. Smith points out it is very important for folks to be able to talk one-on-one to other captive owners and service providers and he says the VCIA Conference is a great chance to do that.