The 2019 Vermont Captive Insurance Association (VCIA) Conference consistently draws between 1000 and 1100 attendees, making it the largest US captive event. This year is likely to be no different, with a little over 1000 attendees expected to be in Burlington.
While many of these attendees are veterans of the event, making it one of the first things they add to their diaries at the start of a new year, around 15 percent of them tend to be first timers. This might owe something to the event’s educational value: companies that send a fixed number of delegates each year may prioritise new employees, who can learn more in a their three days at the conference than they might in a month at their desks.
The other big draw is its networking opportunities. Richard Smith, president of the of the VCIA, said: “Many attendees tell us networking opportunities are the most important part of the event. In that sense a thousand is a good number for us. It means there’s a wide variety of people there for people to meet, but not so many that it becomes impossible to track people down.”
The variety of people at the event is crucial to its success, said Smith. “We have always been keen to open our conference up beyond the Vermont captive community. We get regulators from other domiciles, and other market participants. They come to the event to learn,” he said.
It adds to the sense that the VCIA Conference is an event not just for Vermont, but for the whole US captives community. Smith said: “The captive insurance industry is competitive but at the same time jurisdictions work well together. That is because having bad domiciles is in nobody’s interests, that just gives the whole industry a bad name. And many of the service providers are active in many of the jurisdictions, and certainly all the big ones, which adds to the collaboration.”
But VCIA does not downplay the underlying spirit of competition either. Many other US states are working hard to increase their presence in the captives space, and are putting on their own events that they hope will draw in delegates from around the country. VCIA knows it cannot take the loyalty of its attendees for granted, and that they can go elsewhere if the event’s standard drops.
There is no sign of that happening in 2019. VCIA has a range of sessions to suit attendees from all sides of the industry, whether they are captives newbies or veterans, interested in underwriting, tax or technology and innovation. But perhaps the most popular and eagerly anticipated recurring sessions of the event is the hot topics session given by David Provost, the deputy commissioner for captives in the state of Vermont, which this year will be on Thursday.
“His talk is so topical that we often can’t get hold of his powerpoint presentation until he is about to give his presentation, because he hasn’t decided what he will talk about yet,” said Smith.
VCIA 2019 Annual Conference, Captive, Richard Smith, Vermont, North America