There a range of value-driven reasons for choosing a captive insurance structure for funding your employee benefits. Here I explain some key points of interest.
There a range of value-driven reasons for choosing a captive insurance structure for funding your employee benefits. Here I explain some key points of interest.
Many employers have seen success in placing their critical medical stop-loss insurance in a captive structure. Here I explain the details.
A recent report from AM Best concluded that, based on their ratings, captive insurance companies outperformed commercial market carriers yet again in 2017. This finding was based on a hard look at balance sheet strength, operating performance, and business profiles of captives as compared to their commercial counterparts.
As long-time captive consultants, we’ve seen a range of clients benefit from a captive structure and are well-versed in their advantages. The AM Best report is a testimony to the positive role captives can play and how they’re able to provide a competitive edge to the organizations using them. Some of the key advantages include:
Whether a Single Parent Captive or a Risk Retention Group (RRG), the insureds of a captive are going to have similar risk profiles and diversity. A Single Parent Captive insures the parent company, so all its risks belong to one entity. RRGs are made up of like companies with similar missions and business products/services, such as a group of universities. In both cases, the homogeneity of risk will benefit the captive by establishing a certain level of predictability which helps with the consistency of rates and an unsurprising loss ratio.
According to AM Best, the Captive Insurance Composite (CIC) experienced a 86.4% five-year combined ratio, while the Commercial Casualty Composite (CCC) had a 99.9% five-year combined ratio. Captives enjoy such underwriting profits for a number of reasons, primarily the fact that risk management, control, prevention and mitigation are all at the heart of the captive’s purpose. Organizations are able to benefit from their own good experience. Captives facilitate transparency and more access to data. This allows organizations to act in a proactive manner and implement risk mitigation and control protocols in an almost real time basis. Comparatively, a fully insured commercial market policy may result in a delayed information transition – most commercial insurance arrangements provide reports a quarter after year-end. In addition, frictional costs are lowered with a captive.
A major advantage that organizations with captives have over commercial carriers is the opportunity to recapture part of the premiums. Captives require capital infusion to start and get off the ground. The profits/savings from the insurance carrier accumulate in the captive and can, over time, begin to yield impressive returns on investment. Most feasibility studies use an internal rate of return or a hurdle rate to help visualize potential savings. This makes captives a great alternative for deploying capital and earning a consistently positive return on income, in addition to being able to use it strategically for reinsurance purposes.
Another pro of captives is the ability to evaluate their ROI evaluated against their hurdle rate as their internal rate of return. A company can determine if an investment will give them adequate benefit or savings over a given timeframe based on their rate of return, and then decide if that investment is worth following through with, or if another solution is more economically sound.
These factors combined allow captives a healthy sum of capital and positive balance sheets.
Commercial carriers are sometimes unable to understand the true needs of the insureds and are limited in their offerings. Captives create competitiveness in the market and can compel commercial carriers to offer better terms and costs by virtue of a captive’s existence. In many instances, commercial carriers are threatened by the captive’s ability to take on all the risk and become willing to create quota share arrangements. Captives are a unique, tailored solution for the insured(s) and offer an unbeatable level of customization and very little changes in premiums. They have the ability to insure unique risks and are able to fill in the gaps of coverage where commercial markets are unable to do so.
AM Best defines Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) as, “establishing a risk-aware culture and using tools to consistently identify and manage, as well as measure risk and risk correlations.” An organization that utilizes a captive is likely to have a stronger ERM system in place, when compared to its captiveless peers, since it is partaking in its own experience and thus is more motivated to better manage its risks. In most cases, the captive is a vital cog in the ERM wheel. This close alignment allows for better results for both parties, and a lower total cost of risk for the captive.
Many rated captives have a retention rate of 90% or higher. This is, in part, because policyholders are routinely rewarded through dividend payments from the captive that are significantly higher than any seen in the commercial market. These profits can be used in a multitude of ways to further benefit the captive. For example, policyholders could underwrite additional lines of coverage without the need for more capital, or provide premium holidays on programs, or fund FTEs.
This, combined with the lack of competition means that captives don’t need to shop around for business each year, creating savings in acquisition costs which can then be returned to the captive (e.g. in the form of loss control) to further benefit the insureds.
A captive’s structure and foundation in ERM gives it an added advantage of foreseeing emerging risks. Typically, all key stakeholders and the entire risk team of an organization will be involved in the captive’s management and activity. Having a strong alignment between the parent company, the captive, the IT team, the risk experts, the actuaries and other main players means that everyone is on the same page. A captive can make long-term assessments while also flagging and resolving issues quickly. There is no fragmentation of knowledge in a captive setup, and all stakeholders have the same interests. In sum, captives allow organizations to be nimble and react to changing market conditions quicker than commercial market carriers.
As AM Best states, captives performed well in 2017, as did RRGs, and it’s projected that success will continue into 2018 and beyond. The US captive market has grown substantially over the past few years, with domiciles like North Carolina and Hawaii experiencing an uptick in captive formation. Further, we’re seeing captives being used more frequently for nontraditional lines of coverage, such as cyber and medical stop-loss, adding to the list of use cases.
Captives are a great tool for insureds to create unique, custom-made solution in partnership with the commercial markets. They facilitate better management of claims – their expenses and adjustments – through accurate estimations.
Lastly, one of a captive’s most important attributes is its flexibility and ability to be swift and proactive, without the typical issues in a commercial insurance relationship.
Each year, the Risk Management Society (RIMS) hosts one of the largest industry events. The annual conference and tradeshow brings together thousands of insurance and risk experts, and for the 11th year in a row, the Spring team was among them. We were happy to take a break from Boston’s not-so-springy weather and head to San Antonio for RIMS 2018.
Over the course of the 3-4 days, I was able to a) meet and greet insurance colleagues, both new and familiar, b) party like a true Texan (in case you thought Risk Managers would make for a dull crowd – you may want to rethink this notion), and c) get a gauge on the most popular industry trends and concerns.
For this writeup, I’m focusing on point C, because between various networking and social events, there was a lot to learn at the RIMS annual conference, and I’d love to share some takeaways. Here are the most buzz-worthy topics, in my opinion.
As it has with conferences and news headlines over the past 5-10 years, technology took center stage at RIMS. However, I’m using “technology” as an umbrella term to represent a range of digitally-centric, Internet of Things (IoT) subjects, such as:
During Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.’s annual shareholders meeting, Warren Buffett Chairman, President and CEO said, “Insurance is very early in the game in determining how to cover the risk of data breaches, ransomware and other hacking perils”. He then went on to say that the risk itself is a “very material risk” that didn’t exist 15 years ago one that will get worse. The world of cyber threats and attacks continues to keep risk professionals up at night. From my actuarial perspective, the probability and severity of cyber loss events are becoming better understood, although there still is tremendous uncertainty due to the rapidly changing nature of the risk. The following Cyber sessions were presented at RIMS:
b) Autonomous Vehicles
In March, a self-driving Uber car killed a pedestrian in Arizona, and an autonomous Tesla vehicle caused another death in California. These two incidents are just a couple of many news headlines involving self-driving cars, which certainly pose a variety of risks. As such, they were discussed on several occasions at this year’s conference.
c) Social Media & Mobile Apps
Considering the recent Facebook privacy scandal, it was important to look at social media and mobile issues from the perspective of risk management and mitigation.
e) Drones & Other Tech Matters
In 2017, the U.S. was hit hard with Hurricanes Maria, Harvey and Irma as well as wildfires in California. Outside the U.S., the Caribbean was crushed with those same hurricanes, a devastating earthquake hit Mexico, extreme flooding impacted areas like Bangladesh and Sierra Leone, and areas of China suffered from landslides and typhoons. Unfortunately, this is not an exhaustive list.
Compliance is always a key concern in this industry. What changes year to year are the specific areas of compliance focus, some of which are below.
If you were able to make it to the RIMS conference this year, I hope this helps you retain they event’s key takeaways. If you couldn’t make it to San Antonio, well, now it’s almost as if you were there!
Please feel free to reach out with any questions, actuarial or otherwise. In the meantime, put RIMS 2019 on your calendar – April 28th – May 1st – in Boston (our backyard). We’re already excited for it!
It’s been a busy conference season for us here at Spring, and it’s not over yet! We are excited to be sponsoring and exhibiting at this year’s RIMS (The Risk Management Society) annual conference in San Antonio, Texas from April 15th – 18th. Spring has been actively involved with the RIMS organization for over a decade and we are pleased to continue this partnership. Further, after having just endured three Nor’Easters in a two-week span, we are ready to pack our bags for warmer weather!
The event boasts an incredible turnout each year, and we’re sure this year will be no exception with an expected audience size of almost 3,000. This ties in well with the 2018 theme, “Go Big.” RIMS is one of the best events for risk managers to network, learn and share ideas. The four-day conference combines a good mix of work and play and brings an impressive list of talent when it comes to speakers and content. We’re particularly excited to see Jay Leno!
If you’re reading this, there’s a decent chance you will be at RIMS too, so please don’t forget to come say hi to us at booth #753. We’ll have giveaways, raffle prizes and more, and we’d love to chat with you!
Most of us stay on top of things like dental cleaning appointments and routine car maintenance without giving it much thought, but we’re afraid a lot of companies aren’t treating their captives the same way. Our team recommends regular “captive check-ups” every few years for a variety of reasons, and have a clear, proven system for taking organizations through this refeasibility process.
Spring Partner and Chief Actuary, Steven Keshner, along with our Senior Actuarial Consultant and property & casualty expert, Peter Johnson, led an educational session on captive optimization through
refeasibility studies. With a combined 40 years of experience in the insurance, actuarial and captive industries, the two have a wealth of knowledge to share, and we wouldn’t want you to miss it.
Fill out the form below to view and listen to our webinar, “Time for a Captive Checkup?” which was conducted live in September of 2017. You’ll take away valuable learnings, such as:
You’ve had your P&C captive for years and it has continued to perform well throughout. So what is next? How do you capitalize on this success and build on your captive or rebuild an underperforming aspect of it?
Much like your family car, a captive should have a check up on a periodic basis. Are you writing the right lines in your captive? Are you in the right domicile? Would a different structure be more profitable? Would other service providers make a difference? Have your claims changed significantly? Have regulations changed over the years? All this and more can be answered with a good review of your captive by a professional consultant.
Related Case Study: Captive Refeasibility Study for Fortune 500 Organization
Here are a few things to consider as you ponder a refeasibility study:
The Dodd Frank Act changed the landscape for a lot of captives. Rather than incur a self-procurement tax for risk out of state, some captive owners are redomesticating their captive back to their corporate home states or establishing a fronting captive in that domicile to lessen the premium taxes due. An additional dimension in captive domicile selection is the enormous growth in U.S. domiciles. Countless states have recently set up new domiciles and there are still many quality offshore options. You’re pretty sure you are in the right spot, but a “refeasibility” might show you otherwise. For example, some states have created innovative cell legislation that might work for you or your clients. Some assets held in the captive maybe more liberal, so depending on what you are using for collateral, states need to be studied for the best match.
Ten years ago there were pretty much only large P&C captives writing pretty much only property, general liability and workers compensation and occasionally a rouge auto or warranty program. Captives stuck to high deductible programs and some small quota share coverages to fill out a line slip.
Today, you can write almost anything that is an insurable risk and makes good business sense. You still can’t write lines of coverage that just don’t make sense (like tidal wave coverage in Kansas), but you have a great deal more flexibility and room to be creative in how you define and insure your risk.
Contingent business interruption is sometimes an uninsurable or underinsured risk, and a good candidate for the captive. Some use their captive to front their global or international property program, selling off pieces out the back and taking a nice fronting commission for themselves: the market would have gotten this if they didn’t. Others write business specific coverage like lost in hole drill coverage for oil companies.
Cyber risk is another good candidate for a captive. Cyber insurance in a captive insulates an organization from the market becoming less competitive in the future. It also gives a captive owner a great opportunity to diversify their existing captive portfolio. The captive can also be used to provide coverage that might not be really available in the market, such as future lost revenue of first-party loss of inventory due to technology failure.
Now we have benefit programs that are really taking off as captive programs. Prefunding retiree medical, group term life, medical stop-loss coverage, foreign coverage are just a few of the programs that make sense to add to the captive portfolio. And with some of these programs, the premiums qualify as third-party business and may boost your captive returns with a positive tax affect.
Additionally, for U.S. employers, the regulatory hurdles to funding ERISA-covered benefits in a captive have never been lower with the renewal of the expedited process for securing a prohibited transaction exemption. Couple that with the growing costs (and concerns) surrounding the Affordable Care Act in the U.S. and now is clearly the time to at least be considering funding benefits in your captive.
Regardless of how old or new your captive is, there are a number of internal and external factors that have changed since it was created. Now is a great time to have a professional come in and not only take a snapshot of how your captive is currently performing, but also help you project and strategize where your captive should be in the future. Now is a great time for a captive refeasibility study.
If you agree that it is time to re-evaluate your captive, Spring is poised to step in and help out. Our team of captive consultants, actuaries, underwriters, strategists, accountants and lawyers have decades of experience helping companies similar to yours not only set up their captives, but also conduct through and thoughtful refeasibility studies, which have helped our clients realize continued success with their captive.
Please contact us using the form below if you’d like to chat with a member of our team about your captive’s current and future performance.
Recently, Spring Senior Partner John Cassell presented a session on colleges funding health insurance using a medical stop-loss captive. The session covers how to create a medical stop-loss captive, the economies and efficiencies that can be achieved and why colleges and universities should have this on their radar.
In this webcast, John is joined by Spring Partner Teri Weber and Tracy Hassett who is Vice President, Human Resources at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute is a member of Ed Health, a successful example of a group of colleges and universities that banded together to form a captive to fund their medical stop-loss coverage. Ed Health has completed its first year and is already generating significant savings for its expanding base of members.