Captive Insurance Brings Peace of Mind to Houston Business

Client Concern/Issue:

The principals of a Houston-area furniture retailer and interior design firm sought better control over potential business risks that its commercial policies were not covering.

Capterra Solution:

The firm launched a captive insurance program in 2013 to mitigate these risks.

Over 8 years the program has been called upon to cover a number of such claims.  The policy not only covered damage and business interruption losses from Hurricane Harvey, but it also paid claims on lost business due to a key employee exiting the company.

Capterra Risk’s Exceptional Support

The principals value Capterra’s deep expertise in risk mitigation and understanding the retailer’s requirements of their captive program. “Capterra allows us to focus our attention on our business with the ‘peace of mind’ that Capterra has our captive program fully covered.  They rigorously track the program’s details, keep us in full compliance, and update us on regulatory changes that affect our captive insurance company.”

Results/Benefits:

COVID-19: Illustrating the value of captive insurance

The captive program really showed its worth in spring 2020 when COVOD-19 shut down the United States economy. While US government programs did provide some payroll support, the business still suffered closures and significant delays, leading to lost profits. The captive’s Contingent Business Interruption policy paid a significant claim to cover these losses. This claim would certainly have been rejected under a commercial policy.

 

4 Takeaways from WRCIC

By Bill Eleamos

I am just back from the Western Region Captive Insurance Conference.  It was great to be in person with many of my colleagues. And, yes, the Western heatwave got us in Salt Lake City. Daytime temperatures hit 105.

As we expand our client base in the West, the Capterra Risk team felt it was important to invest time in the region – learning about the latest issues and trends there.

I want to briefly update you on 4 insights I gained while at the conference. Capterra already addresses these areas of interest, but it is always good to analyze our best practices to determine if we can improve.

1. The commercial insurance market continues to harden, leading to more captive formations.

Many businesses are experiencing the following in their commercial insurance policies:

    • Rates increasing by 20% – 30%
    • Deductible increases
    • Retraction or decrease in limits
    • Added exclusions to coverages

2. As captive formations and programs become more popular, the industry is seeing a growing interest in several lines of coverage in 2021.

    1. Medical Reimbursement/Stop Loss
    2. Cyber
    3. Workers Comp
    4. Property
    5. D&O
    6. Business interruption
    7. Auto liability

Captive policies fill gaps in the insured Company’s traditional risk management program providing coverage where there otherwise was none or very limited coverage.  Captive Owners and Managers may want to consider moving coverages to their captive, leverage their captive when negotiating their traditional renewals, and request that their traditional insurance carrier and/or broker work even closer with their captive management team.

We should discuss whether you have risk in any of these areas that are not currently insured by your existing policies. If so, your captive may be an appropriate tool to insure for these exposures.

3. As always, there were many discussions focusing on best practices for captive owners and managers. They included confirming:

    • The captive is adequately capitalized.
    • The captive has the ability to pay claims when they arise.
    • The captive is a licensed and regulated insurance company in the state where it operates.
    • The captive utilizes reliable underwriters and actuaries to price premiums with an arm’s length approach.
    • The captive pays premiums in a timely manner.
    • The captive properly documents all activity including but not limited to claims meetings, board meetings, business plan changes, claims procedures, etc.
    • The captive’s insurance policies are working cohesively with the insured company’s commercial insurance policies.

At Capterra Risk Solutions, we focus on these practices intently.

4. We discussed the implementation and growth of CICA’s NEXTGen Program which is a group of young & new professionals in the captive insurance industry.

The program will concentrate on the career development and networking opportunities for young professionals interested in the captive insurance industry. We hope to get more involved.

As a company interested in investing in our Industry, Sandra Fenters is involved in Advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and Mentorship Programs to aide new captive professionals in their professional growth and career advancement.

We hope to see you in-person soon

As our country continues to remove restrictions after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Capterra team has been traveling more and more.  We have made an effort to visit clients, service providers, and colleagues.

In an ongoing attempt to stay abreast of the latest developments in the insurance world, we will be attending the North Carolina Captive Insurance Association Conference in late August/early September and SIIA’s National Conference in Austin in October.

See you then!

Meet the Team: Jeremy Hirsch

Title: Director of Marketing

Responsibilities: Jeremy is in charge of the firm’s marketing and branding. He was heavily involved in Capterra Risk’s rebranding in 2013.

As a seasoned, senior marketer, Jeremy has run several Marketing departments in both large and small companies.

Time at Capterra: 5+years

Time in insurance/financial services: 5+years

Education/Certification: Jeremy earned his MBA from Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business.

Personal tidbits:

Jeremy just celebrated a 25th wedding anniversary with wife Cara; they have 2 college-aged children.

Jeremy enjoys running, traveling with his family and barbequing.

Construction Firm Appreciates Risk Mitigation of Captive Insurance

R.D., Controller of a privately held Pennsylvania-based $150 million construction firm, initiated a review of all the firm’s providers in 2017.  Insurance brokers were asked to complete a comprehensive RFP.

One of the areas the Controller looked to improve was the construction company’s risk mitigation efforts with the possible use of captive insurance.  She traveled to the Cayman Islands to gather more information of this potential risk mitigation tool.

After deciding that a captive plan met the construction company’s goals, R.D. conducted due diligence of 3 captive insurance consulting firms. The construction company selected Capterra Risk Solutions based on its comfort with the team. The construction firm recognized that there are various risks in any business decision, but R.D. is confident that Capterra is a talented partner constantly working to keep the captive in compliance.

R.D. commented that the captive plan provides the following benefits for their Company:

  • Helps risk mitigation as captive covers previously uncovered risks
  • Creates potential to capture underwriting profits with strong loss mitigation techniques
  • Builds awareness of potential claims, risks, and exposures, resulting in improved operations

“Our expectations of launching the captive have been exceeded. The Capterra Risk team keeps us updated on changes in captive regulations and squarely within compliance with the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance.

“We like that Capterra is appropriately cautious. And they encourage us to get involved with activism.”

R.D., Controller, Pennsylvania based Construction Firm

Captive Insurance Pays Off Over the Years for Specialty Chemical Maker

10+ Years of Captive Coverage

The owner of a specialty chemical manufacturer has long utilized a captive program to mitigate company risk.

As a business owner, R.L.E. must look at the big picture and consider long-term decisions including purchasing insurance and best practices in risk mitigation.  With Company exposures in mind, the owner is constantly looking for products to help shore up uncovered or undercovered risks in the business his grandfather started two generations before. R.L.E. first learned about captive program benefits in a Vistage group and began working with Capterra Risk Solutions President Sandra Fenters in 2010.

At the time, the CEO found that his Pennsylvania-based Company could not purchase a policy insuring environmental pollution liability with a traditional insurance carrier. He found that a captive program could write a policy to insure for that risk as well as many other uncovered risks.

“We view our captive as a competitive advantage against our competitors.”

Captive Insurance during  COVID

More recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the chemical manufacturer had issues with its supply chain and struggled to get specific packaging parts delivered on-time or at customary prices to produce the company’s key consumer products. R.L.E. found it had to pay premium prices and to airfreight the pieces to his factory in order to fulfill customer orders. The additional expenses caused by the extraordinary situation were insured by a policy written by the captive; they would not have been reimbursed by their traditional insurance policies. The owner comments “After 10 years and as illustrated by the pandemic, our captive continues to serve our risk mitigation needs.”

“We view Capterra Risk Solutions as a very efficient team that serves our needs well. They know the industry and counsel us to ensure our captive is in compliance with regulations.”

Meet the Team: Alyssa Kaczmarek

Title: Executive Assistant & Account Manager

Responsibilities:  Alyssa works with clients, CPAs, Actuaries, Attorneys, the Capterra team, and other Service Providers in all captive management services for self-insured arrangements, captive formations, and other alternative mechanisms for procurement of insurance and risk management services. Since beginning in the captive insurance industry, she has worked on the management of over 40 captives.

Time at Capterra: 8+ years (Alyssa joined in July 2012)

Time in insurance: 8+ years

Education/Certification: P&C Insurance License

Personal tidbits:

Alyssa and her husband David will celebrate 13 years of marriage on August 8, 2021.  They have two dogs: Simba, a 13-year-old Shiba Inu, and Baloo, a 12-year-old Shih Tzu.  They have 9 nieces and 4 nephews whom they spoil as much as possible.

Her hobbies include Cooking, Baking, Reading, Hiking, and Boating.  She enjoys hiking locally but admits that some of her best hiking experiences were through national parks/ forests and looks forward to traveling again soon.

Meet the Team: Bill Eleamos

Title: Controller & Fiscal Officer

Responsibilities: Bill manages the day-to-day accounting functions of all captive insurance companies under Capterra Risk Solution’s management.

He is also responsible for the accounting operations and strategic planning of Capterra Risk Solutions, LLC.

Time at Capterra Risk: 5+ years (Bill joined in 2015)

Time in insurance/financial services: 10 years

Education/Certification: Bill graduated from Clarion University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. Subsequent to his undergraduate degree, he obtained his Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from California University of Pennsylvania.

Bill has also obtained his Associate in Captive Insurance (ACI) designation from the International Center of Captive Insurance Education.

Personal tidbits:

Bill is married to Victoria; the couple has a two-year old son (Maxon). They live in the Canonsburg, PA area (south of Pittsburgh).

During his free time, Bill enjoys golfing in a local league, taking his son to gym class and swim lessons, and vacationing in Myrtle Beach, SC with his family.

Bill is an active member of the All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in Canonsburg.

 

What Brokers Really Need to Know about Working with Captive Managers

Sandra participated on a panel discussion at the SIIA 40th Annual National Conference & Expo in October titled “What Brokers Really Need to Know about Working with Captive Managers.”

Park Eddy from Active Captive Management and Ken Kotch from Ryan, LLC joined Sandra on the panel.  The panel discussed how the Broker and Captive Manager work together to best serve their joint clients.

Major Takeaways from Panel

Sandra and her fellow panelists highlighted these points:

  • The market is hardening: The panel discussed the hardening market where clients are seeing rising premium rates (20+%), reductions in limits and capabilities, and cancelation increases. All of this hardening is in absence of significant claim payouts.
  • Speak as one unified voice to the client: Captive Managers partner with brokers to fill in gaps in coverage for the client. It’s critical that the broker and captive manager provide one valuable solution, delivered in one consistent voice.
  • Eliminate duplicative coverage: After filling in gaps in a client’s coverage, it is key for the team to cut products that are overlapping.
  • Brokers benefit from working with captive managers: A complete risk mitigation solution leads to a happier client whose captive company fills in gaps in coverage as well as potentially being a profit center. Also, fruitful broker relationships with captive managers create access to a broader network of professionals that is likely to provide the broker with new business opportunities.
  • Captive Managers often fill the role of a quarterback: We are creating an insurance company so a number of qualified professionals with specific skills such as actuary, legal, and tax need to be brought to the team. Captive Managers have the expertise to recruit and coordinate these disparate functions to deliver on best practices.
  • Accounting experience for Captive Manager: Sandra recommended that accounting expertise, especially tied to insurance, is particularly valuable for this leader.
  • Recent business interruption losses due to COVID shutdowns are a big issue: Many brokers have unhappy clients who have suffered losses due to the pandemic. Given that traditional insurance is typically not paying business interruption claims, captive insurance can cover these losses. This should be attractive to brokers’ clients.
  • Code of conduct important for clients and brokers: Sandra discussed her work on a SIIA committee that created and distributed its code of conduct for Captive Managers. Clients and brokers should assess a Captive Manager’s adherence to these principles.
  • Quarterly claims reviews are important: Firms get busy and often neglect to make the appropriate and required claims for losses. These reviews are significant to ensure that a captive insurance company is taking on the required financial risk transfer within a company.

SIIA members can view the complete webinar on SIIA’s Canoe site.

Brokers are encouraged to contact Sandra for more discussion about these best practices. Sandra can be reached at sfenters@capterrarisk.com.

How Should You Best Manage Your Risk Given the Hardening of Commercial Insurance Markets

Are you getting decline letters from insurance carriers? Did rates go up at renewal resulting in higher premiums charged?  Are you seeing restrictions or retractions in coverage terms and conditions or reduction in limits available?

The pandemic has caused the greatest economic disruption in generations.  All industries are affected, causing many firms to rethink their business models, operations, and risk appetites.  Given the current circumstances, many companies are reviewing their risk management plan and uncovering potential risks and exposures they hadn’t considered in the past.

At Capterra Risk we have played active roles in the insurance industry for 25 years. There has never been one global shared risk that enacted such extensive global changes including those we are seeing in the commercial insurance market encompassing so many lines of coverage.

We are sure you are seeing some of these changes:

  • Premiums are going up, even if claim histories are low
    • Commercial property insurance pricing in the U.S. increased 22% in the second quarter of 2020, according to the Global Insurance Market Index by Marsh LLC.
    • Commercial financial and professional liability insurance average rates in the U.S. increased 30%, as pricing in the directors and officers market was up 59%, with more than 90% of clients experiencing an increase, Marsh said.
  • Insurers are limiting coverage or adding more exclusions
    • Several D&O insurers are also trying to impose both bankruptcy and COVID-19 exclusions in their policies
    • Joe Peiser from Willis Towers Watson adds “we’ve seen intense underwriting reviews, reductions in available limits, non-renewals and even some cancellations.”
  • Companies are scaling back or exiting sectors
    • According to Peiser, for distressed industries like retail, hospitality and health care, rate increases could be even worse, given a dramatic fall-off in insurance capacity for these sectors.

Hardening of Market

In the fall of 2019, the market began to firm and has continued to harden, meaning that insurance companies are reevaluating their coverages offered in light of the changing market and uncertainty. Consequently, we are seeing premium increases, reductions in available limits, retractions in coverage terms and conditions, denials, and even some insurers exiting markets.

With the pandemic, resulting recession, and current social unrest, this hardening market is not likely to change anytime soon.

As an owner looking to cover business risks, the limitations being added to the commercial insurance policies in this hardening market will likely impact you in a significant way.

What Does This Mean to Business Owners?

You have various (some undesirable) options including, but not limited to, (1) purchasing coverage in the traditional market with reduced limits, (2) purchasing coverage in the traditional market with higher deductibles, (3) going without certain coverages and taking on more risk in your business, (4) purchasing coverage with truncated terms and conditions, (5) reducing your highest-risk operations within your Company.

Another option that is getting more attention in 2020 is forming a captive to write coverages and ultimately reduce some of the effects of the hardening market.

Benefits of captive insurance include:

  • Captive owners better control their own risks, customizing policies to fit their operation and needs.
  • Take higher deductibles on traditional policies and have the captive write a deductible reimbursement policy.
  • If there is not capacity in the traditional market for higher limits, the captive may be able to write an Excess policy with additional limits above those written in the traditional policies.
  • A difference in conditions policy can be written to fill those gaps in the traditional policies.
  • Owners retain profits as opposed to simply paying premiums to commercial programs.
  • Encourages you to be better educated on risks, incenting your business towards better risk management behaviors.

Large companies have taken advantage of the benefits of operating a captive for many years.  The 1986 Tax Act provided the 831b captive framework for smaller companies to have the opportunity to form a captive and the ability to manage risks the way a bigger Company could, by utilizing a Captive.

The lines of risk customers are most keen on insuring through a captive are property DIC, directors and officers, cyber, professional liability, product liability, and trade credit.

 

Does it make sense for you to form a captive?

Contact Capterra Risk Solutions, LLC to find out if your Company is a good fit to form a captive.

Now might be the time to consider captive insurance.  Let us provide a free evaluation of your business’ risk mitigation needs and whether captive insurance can benefit you in this hardening market.

Advocacy: Your Role in Shaping the Future of Captives

It is scary to learn that the majority of policy makers do not know what Captive Insurance is and the ways a Captive can aid businesses.  Do you ever wonder if there is anything you can do to stop the propagation of bad information about Captives pushed by critics?

SIIA Has Led Advocacy Efforts for Captives

Much has changed in the world of captives taking the 831(b) election since their formation in 1986. The Self-Insurance Institute of America, Inc. (SIIA) plays a major role in shaping the direction of the industry and prioritizes:

  • Educating Congress Members
  • Preventing bad policy decisions and destructive legislation and regulation
  • Encouraging open and clear dialogue about Captives

SIIA is focused on reducing onerous requirements such as those imposed by Notice 2016-66 and the receipt of IRS letter 6336 and has taken the following steps to address concerns:

  • SIIA has been in conversations with the White House
  • SIIA sent a letter to the IRS and Treasury about burdensome, costly, and ill-timed requests on March 30, 2020. Here is a link to the full letter.

The advocacy efforts of SIIA has led to the following accomplishments:

  • The IRS removed Captives taking the 831(b) election from their “Dirty Dozen” list (a compilation by the IRS of the programs that represent “The worst of the worst tax scams”). 2020 is the first time since 2014 that Captives were not included on the list.
  • 23 parties including SIIA filed an Amicus Brief recently in reference to the case before the US Supreme Court: CIC Services LLC v. IRS.  For more details, click here.

What You Can Do To Help

In an attempt to build upon recent successes, SIIA is asking Captive Owners to consider joining its Advocacy efforts by contacting Ryan Work to setup meetings with Members of Congress to share their stories.  Congress Members want to hear from their constituents, and who is better to educate government officials than those that are utilizing Captives for real risk mitigation in their Companies.  The IRS was under the assumption that many coverages written by Captives insure for risks that are not real; yet here we are in the middle of a pandemic and one of the only coverages responding are Contingent Business Interruption policies issued by Captives.

As Ryan stated during the webinar,

“Doing nothing invites risk and doing nothing in the Captive industry creates issues.  If we do not create the dialog, those in opposition to Captives will fill that silence, which could result in restrictions or worse.  Those in support of Captives must speak out to prevent the loudest voice from being the critics.”

Sandra L. Fenters is a member of Ryan Work’s SIIA Advocacy Committee for the last 3 years.  She has met with many legislators in an attempt to educate them about and advocate for Captives.  It is something Sandra and Capterra feel is necessary and important.  We would love to build our advocacy team with a focus on education so that Congress Members understand the need for Captives and do not simply base their viewpoint solely on what is portrayed by critics.

Although the goal is to educate and solve this problem, the reality is that this is an ongoing effort due to the turnover in Congress.  Alone, SIIA cannot reach out to all 450 Members of Congress, but with the help of Captive Owners, we can together build a narrative and reach many more.

If you are interested in telling your Company’s story and helping to educate Members of Congress on the need for Captives, please let us know and we will put you in contact with Ryan Work so that he can aid in setting up a meeting with a Member of Congress or a staffer.

Thank you for considering playing a key role in the future of Captives by aiding with Advocacy efforts.  We hope to work with you in this capacity in the near future.

_______________________________________________________________________

What Prompted This Communication

The information above was reviewed in a recent webinar Capterra Risk Solutions, LLC participated in on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 titled SIIA Captive Owner Engagement & Policy Update presented by Ryan Work the Vice President of Government Relations for the Self-Insurance Institute of America, Inc. (SIIA).

In summary, the webinar covered the background of SIIA, their goals, approach, and recent activity, a timeline of the past 5 years as it relates to Captives, and an ask for Captive Owners to participate in advocacy and education efforts to engage Members of Congress.   If you would like to view the webinar, please let us know and we will obtain approval to share a link to the recording with you.