VCIA opens doors of annual conference having ‘weathered the storm’


VCIA opens doors of annual conference having ‘weathered the storm’

Kevin Mead, president, Vermont Captive Insurance Association

The COVID-19 pandemic may have wreaked havoc throughout the world, but the easing of associated restrictions has given the Vermont Captive Insurance Association (VCIA) a chance to show that its annual meeting is back on the captive event calendar.

"The pandemic saw many small to mid-sized associations fail to survive,” VCIA president Kevin Mead (pictured) told Captive International. “I know of a number that had to merge, dissolve, or downsize.  It is a tribute to the Board, the staff, and my predecessor, Rich Smith, that the VCIA weathered that storm comparatively well.”

Mead said that at this year’s event he will be seeking the answers to the question “What Next?” He said that VCIA’s headcount shows about 25 percent of attendees will be attending their first VCIA conference.  

According to Mead he will be keen to learn from the new participants, as well as the long-term supporters of VCIA what they need from their association.  

“It would be simple to ‘put the band back together’ and just deliver the old hits,” said Mead. “But we need to make sure, after tectonic shifts in the economy, we understand how people want to get value from an association [like VCIA], and respond with initiatives designed to delight members.”

Asked how important it is to return to an almost completely in-person conference, Mead said that it’s critical, adding that the LinkedIn traffic and emails and calls to the VCIA’s office show how delighted stakeholders are to be back in person.  

Mead stressed that, in his view, better and more sustained relationships are built in-person, and that you often learn more about a person or organisation in the unscripted conversations over coffee, a meal, or a beer than you can in a virtual conference session.

Added to the desire the VCIA has to actively consult with members both formally and informally, Mead said that an in-person event was vital to help rebuild the sense of community within the captive industry in Vermont.

Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) is perhaps unique amongst state regulatory bodies in the captive industry for its robust succession planning and stability, Mead told Captive International.  

“Recent changes within the DFR occasioned by the impending retirement of Dave Provost, and the promotion of well-known and respected captive professionals Sandy Bigglestone and Christine Brown are evidence of that,” he explained, adding that a new commissioner at the DFR, Kevin Gaffney, who has a deep knowledge of the insurance industry and a leadership role within the NAIC, all signal the maintenance of the ‘gold standard’ that Vermont provides.  

The VCIA underlines that both captive owners and potential owners continue to see a value in effective and knowledgeable regulation that clearly maintains standards while encouraging excellence in those that they regulate. Further, the H515 legislation passed in Vermont this year contained no seismic shifts in regulation, but did make adjustments to reflect the changing needs of the captive community.

As a result, Mead said, Vermont continues to be the leading domestic domicile choice, but refuses to rest on those laurels, and evolves and adjusts.

However, Mead did identify challenges for the market, with the primary one being staffing.

"The demand is there, but across the board service providers are having to work extra hard to cope with that demand,” Mead said. “You will see initiatives from the VCIA, sometimes on our own, and sometimes in concert with others, that seek to address issues around early-career professionals, female empowerment within the industry, and a broad look at diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Mead hopes that the biggest take-aways that delegates will get from the conference will be that they had access to the best captive education and the best captive experts out there, that they were with nearly a thousand peers that ‘get what they do’ and that they realise that the VCIA is invested in their success and their investment of time, money, and effort was rewarded.

Finally, Mead looked ahead at 2023. “The Vermont DFR has reported more captive formations in the first six months of 2022 than in the similar period in 2021,” he said. “While there are early indications that the pace of growth in traditional premium costs is slowing, it is still a hard market.  Additionally, the innovation and expansion within captives is also driving the steady growth seen in the market. I think that ‘innovation’ is going to be key, as entities assess their risks and determine whether a captive insurance solution might be the answer.”

VCIA, Annual Conference, Captive, Kevin Mead, Vermont, Insurance, Reinsurance

Captive International