Vermont Captive Insurance Association (VCIA) held its annual conference on August 7–10 in Burlington, Vermont. The conference had record attendance, with approximately 1,100 people participating, including around 220 first-time attendees. In even bigger news, Vermont has taken over as a top global captive domicile.
With this unprecedented growth, VCIA presents us with the opportunity to learn what is trending in the captive space, network with colleagues and clients from across the industry, and demonstrate Gallagher Bassett’s (GB) capabilities to support our captive partners.
As a representative of our organization, I have been attending this conference for eight years, and this year, I was joined by fellow GB team members Antoine Green, AVP – Risk Management Sales, Carrie Daufenbach, VP – Carrier Client Services, and Bob Morris, VP – Carrier Practice Sales, who share their experiences from VCIA’s conference below.
Between the four of us, we have a mix of first-time attendees and VCIA veterans. Whether this was your first experience or one of many, what did you learn and observe from the conference?
Antoine Green (AG): As a first-time attendee, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the different captive types—Pure Captives, Group Captives, and Risk Retention Groups—and the resources necessary to make captives successful. I have a better understanding of the difference between the group captive and single parent captive, as well as the importance of captives partnering with regulators and acquiring a skilled group of lawyers, accountants, consultants, auditors, and captive managers. It was great seeing the power in the captive space first-hand.
Carrie Daufenbach (CD): I learned that the captive space is a small close-knit family, similar to how we are at GB. Everyone seemed familiar with one another and very engaged.
Bob Morris (BM): I have been attending VCIA for more years than I want to admit. This year, VCIA celebrated 38 years, and although I wasn’t at the first one, I have been to more than 25. I felt a lot of positive energy, despite the less-than-perfect weather. Three of the carriers I spoke with had already met their new captive growth goals for 2023, and still expected several captives to be added before the end of the year.
Networking and the GB Booth
Attendees came ready to network. The GB booth had a steady stream of visitors each day, and our team did a great job meeting with clients and prospects throughout. Most of the inquiries centered on our ability to handle traditional lines, such as workers’ compensation, general liability, auto liability, and property, as well as specialty lines, such as professional liability, cyber, D&O, E&O, and others.
While we spent a lot of time networking and building relationships, I found that several of our connections came ready with new development opportunities for us. Our captive stakeholders are looking for a claims team that can develop and maintain staff to serve their growing captives.
At GB, we are prepared to partner early on, collaborating to address the specific needs of each program. Getting a head start at the conference allows us to deliver superior outcomes from the first conversation.
Key Takeaways and Questions
In addition to networking and building partnerships, the conference provides the opportunity to discuss the industry’s future. I was often asked about predictive analytics and its place in our claims process. The best answer is found within our Waypoint decision-support tools, our Centralized Subro program, SMART Benchmarking, and Clinical Concierge. I also heard questions about legacy solutions—mainly partners looking to better manage and consolidate legacy claims for inactive/dormant, run-off captives, and carrier books.
What were the common questions and topics you heard at the conference, either at the booth or in presentations?
CD: I was asked about GB’s claims services, our system capabilities for managing captives, our Client Services Managers, and our Claims Operation staff—a variety of topics. The feedback in many cases was that the clients and/or brokers work with GB and are pleased with their experience. This was a very positive theme throughout the conference.
BM: The consensus seems to be that the hardening market has raised interest in captives by companies that, in the past, would not have considered one because it was easier to buy a guaranteed-cost product. With the introduction of new insurance lines, such as cyber, cannabis, firearms, etc., companies are also turning to captives when traditional insurance is either not available or cost-prohibitive.
Another year is in the books for the VCIA Annual Conference. As the industry evolves, we must adapt our offerings and ability to support our captive partners. But what’s promising is the continued excitement for technological developments, claims handling strategies, and growing numbers of captives across the industry.
Kevin Mead, VCIA President, said, “One word that describes the VCIA Conference is this: camaraderie,” and I agree.
In attending the conference, what did you learn about captives, and what do you think our carrier clients should know?
CD: The sheer number of captive types surprised me as well as the way our customers utilize captives. I learned more about the homogeneous captives, heterogeneous captives, and single-owner captives that we have in my dedicated carrier unit. I found it interesting how many people I talked to were excited about being a part of a captive and that the sense of “community” they felt was very strong. The booth interactions were excellent. Many conferences are large, and visiting exhibits can be overwhelming; however, I found this conference to be a great place to interact and visit all the exhibitors. There truly was something for everyone.
BM: Based on attending more than 20 years of VCIA conferences, this conference was well attended, and most of the attendees I spoke with agreed that since COVID, conferences are the preferred way to see people in person, as so many work remotely. They feel that relationships still need to be built in person when possible.
AG: I enjoyed seeing captives invest in young talent, recognizing that they must nurture talent in this space. I would challenge captives to continue prioritizing diversity and reflecting on the many communities they serve. When risk managers are completing their process to start captives, I would want them to know that they should consider having an award-winning claims and risk management partner like GB at the beginning of the process. Having a partner with industry-leading expertise and technology to drive outcomes should be at the top of every captive’s mind. GB is an expert in many different ways and can be a trusted advisor guiding captives throughout the process.
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