The Courage to Create
When I think of the courage to create, and the accompanying traits of passion and perseverance that define Risk All Stars, I can’t help but think of Renee Crow of Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants.
Like a number of our Risk All Stars winners, Crow manages risk at a company that is experiencing rapid growth. Rapid growth brings opportunity. But rapid growth, as we know, carries risk.
When Crow joined Kimpton, the company owned 24 properties. Now, it owns more than 60.
Although customer service underlies so much, there is a laser focus on it in the hospitality business. Much is expected and very little is forgiven.
The organizations these professionals manage risk for are stronger because of their courage.
According to Crow, Kimpton sets high customer service standards, but it was also facing legal snares from guest and employee interactions gone bad. She devised a training program that enabled Kimpton staff across the country to re-enact various customer service scenarios and learn from them.
Crow humbly states that she did what she did because she’d seen enough bad training approaches to know better. But I say what she did was innately brilliant.
She took a risk, or a negative, and created employee engagement across the board in seeking solutions. This is an era when employee disengagement is reported to be at high levels across many industries. The cost of risk at Kimpton has plummeted as a result.
The creative courage of Risk All Stars winner Kris Finell of Rytec Corp. also comes to mind. Finell possessed not merely the courage to create, but also the moxie to confront.
Rytec, another fast growing company, is a manufacturer of high-speed industrial doors. You can easily see the risks and the results when something goes wrong.
Rytec salesmen were in the habit of removing industrial door safety features at the behest of customers. Finell, practically brand new in her role as risk manager, put a stop to it.
Waivers that allow customers to remove safety features on Rytec doors are now a thing of the past.
Finell also had the courage to remove a broker that was friends with one of her supervisors. The relationship wasn’t working for her vision, so she vetted a number of candidates and chose one with the right fit for her.
Talking to these Risk All Stars reminded me that it’s not enough to see something; you have to say and do something. The organizations these professionals manage risk for are stronger because of their courage.
2015 Risk All Stars
Angeli Mancuso: On a Mission to Revitalize (+Responsibility Leader)
Manager, Employee Health & Safety, Cottage Health System
By getting the board of directors behind a goal to decrease patient-handling injuries, Angeli Mancuso has improved employees’ quallity of life.
Timothy Fischer: With Military Precision (+Responsibility Leader)
Tim Fischer was given nine months to address the risk implications of a sizable spin-off.
Tim Kirsch overhauled his company’s safety mission, protecting drivers on the road while slashing workers’ comp claims costs.
The urgent need for a creative solution inspired one Risk All Star to create a unique excess casualty program with benefits on several levels.
Jennifer Cable’s degree is in opera performance. She is also a risk management maestro.
Tracey Gasper: Service Centered (+Responsibility Leader)
This risk manager’s savings for her company can be measured in the millions.
Elizabeth Queen: Building a Unified Travel Program (+Responsibility Leader)
With an existing program now spread enterprise-wide, traveling employees have an improved experience, while the company enjoys lower costs and reduced risk.
One Risk All Star took on the daunting challenge of quickly relocating a sprawling headquarters, and without a single moment of down time.
David Brooks quantifies and manages risks across every industry and product offered by XL Catlin.
Brent Cooley: Shakespeare Minus the Tragedy (+Responsibility Leader)
A series of potentially high-severity events drove the push to launch a safety organization that will help keep theater students safe for years to come.
New to her position in risk management, Rytec’s Kris Finell set about correcting just about everything she could get her hands on.
Albert Fierro: The Fruits of Long, Hard Labor (+Responsibility Leader)
With decades of expertise in captive insurance, Albert Fierro was the ideal person to help AARP rein in its rising workers’ compensation costs.
Adding role playing to training efforts helped Kimpton Hotels’ risk manager teach employees how to avoid mistakes that drive up the cost of claims.
Treasury now drives risk management throughout Meritor’s business units, thanks to the efforts of Todd Chirillo.
Florida’s insurance pool members can rest easy that, thanks to Jeannie Garner’s initiative, they can bounce back in the face of severe storms.
When staff reductions and organizational change made strong leadership imperative, Amanda Lagatta rose to the challenge.
7 Questions to Answer before Choosing a Captive Insurance Domicile
Risk managers: Do your due diligence!
It seems as if every state in America, as well as many offshore locations, believes that they can pass captive legislation and declare, “We are open for business!”
In fact, nearly 40 states and dozens of offshore locations have enabling captive insurance legislation to do just that.
With so many choices how do you decide who is experienced enough to support the myriad of fiscal and regulatory requirements needed to ensure the long term success of your captive insurance company?
“There are certainly a lot of choices,” said Mike Meehan, a consultant with Milliman, an actuarial firm based out of Boston, Massachusetts, “but not all domiciles are created equal.”
Among the crowd, there are several long-standing domiciles that offer the legislative, regulatory and infrastructure support that makes captive ownership not only a successful risk management tool but also an efficient entity to manage and operate.
Selecting a domicile depends on many factors, but answering these seven questions will help focus your selection process on the domiciles that best fit your needs.
1. Is the domicile stable, proven and committed to the industry for the long term?
The more economic impact that the captive industry has on the domicile, the more likely it is that captives will receive ongoing regulatory and legislative support. The insurance industry moves very quickly and a domicile needs to be constantly adapting to stay up to date. How long has the domicile been operating and have they been consistent in their activity over the long term?
The number of active captive licenses, amount of gross premium written in a domicile and the tax revenue and fees collected can indicate how important the industry is to the jurisdiction’s bottom line. The strength of the infrastructure and the number of jobs created by the captive industry are also very relevant to a domicile’s commitment.
“It needs to be a win – win situation between the captives and the jurisdiction because if not, the domicile is often not committed for the long term,” said Dan Kusalia, Partner with Crowe Hortwath LLP focused on insurance company tax.
Vermont, for example, has been licensing captives since 1981 and had 589 active captives at the end of 2015, making it the largest domestic domicile and third largest in the world. Its captive insurance companies wrote over $25 billion in gross written premiums. The Vermont State Legislature actively supports an industry that creates significant tax revenue, jobs and tourist activity.
2. Are the domicile’s captives made up of your peer group?
The demographics of a domicile’s captive companies also indicate how well-suited the location may be for a business in a particular industry sector. Making sure that the jurisdiction has experience in the type and form of captive you are looking to establish is critical.
“Be among your peer group. Look around and ask, ‘Who else is like me?’” said Meehan. “Does the jurisdiction have experience licensing and regulating the lines of coverage for other businesses in your industry sector?”
3. Are the regulators experienced and consistent?
It takes captive-specific expertise and broad experience to be an effective regulator.
A domicile with a stable and long-term, top-tier regulator is able to create a regulatory environment that is consistent and predictable. Simply put, quality regulation and longevity matter a lot.
“If domicile regulators are inexperienced, turnaround time will be slower with more hurdles. More experience means it is much easier operating your business, especially as your captive grows over time,” said Kusalia.
For example, over the past 35 years, only three leaders have helmed Vermont’s captive regulatory team. Current Deputy Commissioner David Provost is one of the longest tenured chief regulators and is a 25-year veteran in the captive insurance industry. That experienced and consistent leadership enables the domicile to not only attract quality companies, but also to provide expert guidance on the formation process and keep the daily operations running smoothly.
4. Are there world-class support services available to help manage your captive?
The quality of advisors and managers available to assist you will have a large impact on the success of your captive as well as the ease of managing the ongoing operations.
“Most companies don’t have the expertise to operate an insurance company when you form a captive, so you need to help build them a team,” Jeffrey Kenneson, a Senior Vice President with R&Q Quest Management Services Limited.
Vermont boasts arguably the most stable and experienced captive infrastructure in the world. Many of the leading captive management companies have their headquarters for their Global, North America and U.S. operations based in Vermont. Experienced options for captive managers, accountants, auditors, actuaries, bankers, lawyers, and investment professionals are abundant in Vermont.
5. Can the domicile both efficiently license and provide on-going support to your captive as it grows to cover new lines of coverage and risks?
Licensing a new captive is just the beginning. Find out how long it takes for the application to get approved and how long it takes for an approval of a plan change of your captive’s operations.
A company’s risks will inevitably change over time. The captive will need to make plan changes which can include adding new lines of business. The speed with which your domicile’s regulatory branch reviews and approves these plan changes can make a critical difference in your captive’s growth and success.
The size of a captive division’s staff plays a big role in its speed and efficiency. Complex feasibility studies and actuarial analyses required for an application can take a lot of expertise and resources. A larger regulatory team will handle those examinations more efficiently. A 35-person staff like Vermont’s, for example, typically licenses a completed application within 30 days and reviews plan changes in a matter of days.
6. What are the real costs to establishing and managing your captive?
It is important to factor in travel costs, the local costs of service providers, operating fees, and examination fees. Some states that do not impose a premium tax make up for it in high exam fees, which captives must be prepared for. Though Vermont does charge a premium tax, its examination fees are considered some of the least expensive options in the marketplace.
It is also important to consider the ease and professionalism of doing business with a domicile in the ongoing operations of your captive insurance company.
“The cost of doing business in a domicile goes far beyond simply the fixed cost required. If you can’t efficiently operate due to slow turn-around time or added obstacles, chances are you have made the wrong choice,” said Kenneson.
7. What is the domicile’s reputation?
Make sure to ask around and see what industry experts with experience in multiple domiciles have to say about the jurisdiction. Make sure the domicile isn’t known for only licensing certain types of captives that don’t fit your profile. Will it matter to your board of directors if your local newspaper decides to print a story announcing your new insurance subsidiary licensed in some far away location?
Are companies leaving the jurisdiction in high numbers and if so, why? Is the domicile actively licensing redomestications — when an existing captive moves from one domicile to another? This type of movement can often be a positive indicator to trends in a domicile. If companies of a particular size or sector are consistently moving to one state, it may indicate that the domicile has expertise particularly suited to that sector.
Redomestications made up 11 of the 33 new captives in Vermont in 2015. This trend is a positive one as it speaks to the strength of Vermont. It reinforces why Vermont is known throughout the world as the ‘Gold Standard’ of domiciles.
Asking the right questions and choosing a domicile that meets your needs both today and for the long term is vital to your overall success. As a risk manager you do not want surprises or headaches because you did not ask the right questions. Do the due diligence today so that you can ensure your peace of mind by choosing the right domicile to meet your needs.
For more information about the State of Vermont’s Captive Insurance, visit their website: VermontCaptive.com.
This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with the State of Vermont. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.