3 Topics that Captivated the 2017 VCIA Conference

Each summer our team looks forward to returning to Burlington, Vermont for the annual Vermont Captive Insurance Association (VCIA) conference. Our Managing Partner, Karin Landry, is a long-standing member of the VCIA strategic planning committee and has been an active participant in the organization’s events for over a decade now. This past year a group of Spring colleagues congregated in Burlington where we learned, networked, presented and caught up with familiar faces.Vermont Captive Insurance Association

While the conference’s official theme this year was “Mission Impossible”, I noticed a few captive-related topical concepts that continuously emerged throughout the 3-day event: optimization, technology and legal and ethical considerations. In addition, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was also a cornerstone of the conference 🙂

1. Optimization

Setting up and managing the day-to-day tasks of a captive are one thing, but getting the most out of your captive is another. No one knows this better than the industry veterans who flocked to Burlington, Vermont from all over the world, and the topic was central to several educational sessions.

One presentation called, “Getting the Most out of Your Actuary”, covered just that, discussing factors like loss studies, program design, cost allocation and TPA assessments. The Managing Director of Global Risk at Cummins, Inc. led a discussion on optimizing your captive’s risk profile, emphasizing realignment over time in terms of the different parties’ captive goals. A third session entitled “Reinventing Your Captive for Maximum Results” presented two case studies and focused on different tax cases and actuarial observations. All three sessions offered tips and best practices to attendees, and while I know a lot about captive optimization, I can’t say I didn’t learn a thing or two.

2. Technology

It’s 2017. Technology is everything and everywhere. But how does it play into captives specifically?

Well, one session focused on the oncoming of self-driving cars and presented the different risk and insurance consequences they pose, not to mention changes in regulation. Control and liability are likely to shift if autonomous vehicles actually become mainstream, and all sorts of policy, insurance and cost changes could affect the captive market.

In “Innovative Spotlight: Using Technology to Mitigate Risk”, a panel including the General Counsel from Cook-Illinois Corporation, who spoke of his own experience, outlined three areas for efficiency-based opportunities: data, human capital and software. The group discussed things like apps, social media, the elusive “Internet of Things” and mathematical models that companies should be considering in tandem with their captives. They also covered how to train and manage your people as they become familiarized with such technology.

Cyber Insurance

Lastly, “Cybersecurity and Captives” was a two-part presentation (our own Teri Weber led part 2) that explored cyber threats and attacks, different types of risk involved and trends in the marketplace. Teri presented proprietary Spring survey data on the landscape of putting cyber insurance into a captive – who’s doing it, who’s considering it, what are the different challenges or reservations, what are the benefits of cyber in a captive? Cyber attacks continue to happen every day, and hackers always seem to be one step ahead, but these sessions helped audiences feel more prepared and armed for what hopefully will never happen to their organization. But like they say, better safe than sorry!

3. Legal & ethical considerations

A panel including Mary Ellen Moriarty from the College Insurance Company and Dan Petterson of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation led the discussion, “Captive Governance Best Practices: Ethics, Conflicts of Interest and More”. They talked about the importance of each role staying within their role – and when over different duties of directors. They highlighted ways to ensure captive compliance such as ownership structure, plan of operations and your Board of Directors, and discussed how things might differ depending on your captive type (i.e. group vs. pure).

Another session got more into the weeds and provided an industry tax update – crucial information for captive professionals to be on top of. Specifically, the group focused on the recent supposed crackdown on microcaptives, or 831bs by the IRS – what kinds of captives they’re after, what their red flags are and how to make sure your captive doesn’t end up on their list.

 

In summary, the 2017 Annual VCIA conference brought good weather, great ice cream, informative and important educational sessions, and myriad of networking opportunities. Our team was happy to be back, especially having kicked off the conference with an award from the US Captive Review! We are already looking forward to next year’s event. If you didn’t have a chance to stop by our booth or weren’t able to make it to the conference, please feel free to reach out with any questions, In the meantime, you might also enjoy this white paper: Funding Employee Benefits Through a Captive.

Actuarial Firm of the Year

by Reciprocity Studio

 

What 831(b) Captive Owners Need to Know About IRS Notice 2016-66

IRS Notice 2016-66On Tuesday, November 1 the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Treasury Department issued a November surprise to the Captive Insurance industry in the form of Notice 2016-66.

What is Notice 2016-66?

Notice 2016-66 relates to captive insurance companies set up under U.S. code 831(b), also known as micro-captives. Stories of 831(b) captive abuse have been widely reported in recent times and have caught the eye of a number of U.S. agencies and lawmakers. There is a general understanding that there is an element of the micro-captive industry that improperly uses the tax exemption to shield taxable income. The IRS and Department of Treasury acknowledge this practice of tax avoidance and evasion, but as they point out in the early sections of 2016-66, there isn’t enough information currently gathered to properly target the offenders.

To combat this abuse, and to begin to gain a better understanding of the overall scope and use of 831(b)s, the two government agencies have teamed up on 2016-66. This new notice now defines certain 831(b) transactions as “transactions of interest” and now makes them subject to additional reporting of the transaction and imposes penalties for non-compliance.

Who does Notice 2016-66 Impact?

It is important here to understand exactly what the IRS is now terming a transaction of interest. Here is their definition (from IRS website):

  • A, a person, directly or indirectly owns an interest in an entity (or entities) (“Insured”) conducting a trade or business;
  • An entity (or entities) directly or indirectly owned by A, Insured, or persons related to A or Insured (“Captive”) enters into a contract (or contracts) (the “Contracts”) with Insured that Captive and Insured treat as insurance, or reinsures risks that Insured has initially insured with an intermediary, Company C;
  • Captive makes an election under § 831(b) to be taxed only on taxable investment income;
  • A, Insured, or one or more persons related (within the meaning of § 267(b) or 707(b)) to A or Insured directly or indirectly own at least 20 percent of the voting power or value of the outstanding stock of Captive; and
  • One or both of the following apply:
    • the amount of the liabilities incurred by Captive for insured losses and claim administration expenses during the Computation Period (defined in section 2.02 of this notice) is less than 70 percent of the following:
      • premiums earned by Captive during the Computation Period, less
      • policyholder dividends paid by Captive during the Computation Period; or
    • Captive has at any time during the Computation Period directly or indirectly made available as financing or otherwise conveyed or agreed to make available or convey to A, Insured, or a person related (within the meaning of § 267(b) or 707(b)) to A 10 or Insured (collectively, the “Recipient”) in a transaction that did not result in taxable income or gain to Recipient, any portion of the payments under the Contract, such as through a guarantee, a loan, or other transfer of Captive’s capital.

Benefits Exemption:

It should be noted here that any captive arrangement that has secured a Prohibited Transaction Exemption (PTE) from the US Department of Labor (DOL) to provide insurance for employee compensation or benefits covered by ERISA is not considered a Transaction of Interest under these new rules. This may have broad and deep implications on the employee benefit captive industry.

What are the Reporting Requirements?

Reporting of a transaction of interest must be done using Form 8886, which is the Reportable Transaction Disclosure Statement. The Form 8886 filing must describe the transaction in question enough so that the IRS understands how the transaction is structured and who is involved in it. There are additional Form 8886 filing requirements of the taxpayer and captive. These are described in detail here.

What are the Penalties?

Parties that do not comply with this new rule are subject to penalties under U.S. Code 6707A which states:

Subject to the maximum and minimum limits, the amount of the penalty is “75 percent of the decrease in tax shown on the return” as a result of the reportable transaction (or which would have resulted from such transaction if such transaction were respected for federal tax purposes).

  1. The maximum penalty in the case of a listed transaction is $100,000 for a natural person and $200,000 for all other taxpayers. In the case of a non-listed reportable transaction, the maximum penalty is $10,000 for a natural person and $50,000 for all other taxpayers.
  2. The minimum penalty for each reportable transaction (listed or non-listed) is $5,000 for a natural person and $10,000 for all other taxpayers.

It is pointed out in Notice 2016-66 that these rules may be revisited and transactions of interest may be redefined once the IRS and Treasury Department have a better grasp on the situation and better understand the abuse they are looking to eliminate. Further notices from the agencies will likely address this.

So, you own an 831(b) captive; what should you do next???

If you own an 831(b) micro-captive and are unsure of you need to fill out a Form 8886, contact our award-winning team of captive consultants, accountants and attorneys for an unbiased, independent review of your situation.

Alternatively, if you have been looking to write ERISA-covered employee benefits or compensation insurance into a micro-captive, now may be a great time to move forward. There are so many advantages to underwriting employee benefits and this ruling gives us yet another. Spring is the industry leader in employee benefit captive funding solutions and can help you evaluate your current situation and subsequently develop your plan and secure DOL approval. Contact us today!

Image credit: Isaac Bowen via flickr

Let’s Combat Rising Health Insurance Costs!

The big news in the world of politics last week was the reported increases employers are facing due, in part, due to insurer costs related to the Affordable Care Act. Media accounts have health insurance exchange open enrollment renewals pegged at an average increase of 28% with some having to pay double their current rates

We will leave it to the politicians to duke it out over the specific causes of the increase and who is to blame. As employee benefit advisors, we prefer to focus on how we can help employers get out from under these significant cost hikes, while still providing your employees with robust, cost-effective benefit packages. One solution that is generating positive results and cost savings for businesses is self-funding their health insurance.

A self-funded health insurance plan is one in which an employer retains the financial risk of covering employees’ health care costs with the option to insure against the cost of catastrophic claims. Contracting with a third-party payer, administrative services organization, or an insurance company, an employer will pay a third party to administer the benefits, pay claims and perform certain limited fiduciary functions.

There are many benefits to self-funding including plan design choice, cost transparency and cost savings. Self-funded employers have much more flexibility in their plan design than insured employers, as they are not subject to state coverage mandates. They also have insight into the actual cost of care, administrative costs and any loaded fees or additional expenses to the plan. Other benefits of moving to self-insurance include eliminating a number of taxes, fees and administrative costs incurred with a fully funded plan.

Once an employer has made the conversion to self-funding, they can achieve savings of anywhere from 5% to 15% depending on their cost structure. Self-insurance remains a powerful weapon in the war on burgeoning benefit costs. Employers who make the change can reap immediate benefits and avoid, or at least slowdown, some of the significant and inevitable cost increases on the horizon.

If your company is in the process of renewing your health insurance for 2017, or if a renewal is on the horizon, we can help. You owe it to your business and employees to talk to us about self-funding. Speak to one of our team of brokers, consultants, underwriters and actuaries for self-funding advice and a free, no-obligation quote. In the end, you may chose to go a fully funded route, but you should know your options especially in light of the projected increases.

Contact us today using the form below to discuss self-funding health insurance further.

You might also be interested in our FREE white paper on self-funding. This helpful eguide was written by our funding experts and will give you more detail about how exactly self-insurance works.

Regulatory Changes That Have Led to Increased Employee Benefit Captive Funding

Fifteen years ago, captives were not commonly used for financing employee benefits, as regulatory obstacles and reinsurance restrictions limited eligibility to only the largest of captives.

The DOL must approve the placement of ERISA benefits into pure-parent captives. Many well-known organizations have obtained funding approval, including ADM, Alcon Labs, Alcoa, AGL Resources, Astra Zeneca, Banner Health, International Paper, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Sun Microsystems, and United Technologies.

Many more companies have used captives to fund other non-ERISA employee benefits that do not require DOL approval. Moreover, employer groups and associations are establishing captives to fund employee benefits, thus offering an alternative to the commercial insurance markets and providing an incentive for membership growth.

For companies with property & casualty captives, certain employee benefits may be “unrelated business,” i.e., insurance business unrelated to the captive’s parent. Adding unrelated business to a single-parent captive can improve the captive’s overall financial efficiency; satisfy the need for third party business allowing the parent to deduct its captive premiums from its U.S. federal income taxes; and create additional cost savings.

Regulatory changes have led to increased employee benefit captive funding. Some of these changes include the following:

  • Internal Revenue Service clarifies risk shifting/distribution and unrelated business requirements

In 1993, the IRS ruled[1] that certain employee benefits insurance written in a pure captive is unrelated business (to the captive’s parent) since it benefits the employee and not the employer.  In 2002, the IRS issued three revenue rulings clarifying the qualification of captives as insurance companies for federal income tax purposes, including discussions of third party business, brother-sister arrangements and group captives.[2]

  • The DOL review process provides a roadmap to funding

If the proposed transaction is subject to ERISA, the DOL has a streamlined process for approval.

  • GASB 45 and FASB 158 requirements raise awareness of post-retirement liabilities

Accounting rules such as GASB 45 and ASC 715 (formerly FAS 87/106 and amended by FAS 158) require that organizations account for retiree medical and pension obligations.  These requirements encourage employers to not only account for the liabilities, but also to seek efficient funding methodologies. In addition, GASB statements 74 and 75 are increasing the required disclosures for public retiree medical obligations.

  • Court rulings clarify the parameters for funding retiree medical programs

In Wells Fargo & Co. v. Commissioner 224 F.3d 874 (8th Cir. 2000), the tax court clarified the amount that can be set aside to fund retiree medical benefits, expanding the potential funding allowed to employers.

  • Revenue Ruling 2014-15 clarifies funding opportunities for retiree medical programs

In 2014, the IRS ruled in Revenue Ruling 2014-15 that Non-cancellable Accident and Health Insurance policies will receive life insurance tax treatment as long as the following facts and circumstances are met:

-The Company maintains a VEBA Trust that satisfies the requirements of 501(c)(9)

-The Company purchases a Non-cancellable Accident and Health policy from an insurance company and reinsures the policy through the captive

-Both the Company and the VEBA retain the right to cancel the retiree health coverage at any time

As a result, insuring non-collectively bargained retiree medical benefits through a captive allows for tax-free growth of reserves without the need for a Private Letter Ruling.

Want to Learn More?

Download our Risk Manager’s Guide to Employee Benefit Captives to find out all you need to know about this increasingly popular funding option.

 

[1] IRS Revenue Ruling 92-93 [2] IRS Revenue Rulings 2002-89, 2002-90 and 2002-91

Cell Captives: The Right Fit for Many Small and Mid-Sized Businesses

Cell Captive StructureWhat is a Cell Captive?

A protected cell company (PCC) is a legal entity, set up by a sponsor, which is divided up into individually protected cells that are rented out by the sponsor to companies or groups who want to use a captive cell to fund various risks. The sponsor establishes the core of a PCC and the overall PCC structure. Once established, the sponsor also manages the PCC’s day-to-day activities, allowing cell owners to avoid a lot of the corporate and administrative resources typically required for a captive insurance or reinsurance company.

With a PCC, you essentially benefit from pooled administration, but not risk. Each cell in a PCC is independent of and insulated from the others and the core in terms of assets and liabilities. Often, PCCs will allow companies to own more than one cell, and typically each cell is still treated individually.

See also: The Benefits of Captives for Small and Mid-Sized Businesses (White Paper)

What are the Benefits to a Cell Captive

There are a number of benefits to insuring your risk using a protected cell company:

  • Easy entry into funding risk – While you still have to clear the typical regulatory hurdles of setting up a captive which vary greatly depending on the risk in question, a great deal of the administrative time and money that you would typically spend is eliminated since we have already set up the shell entity for you.
  • Economies of scale – With a protected cell company, you enjoy continued administrative savings due to economies of scale from potentially pooled administrative costs.
  • Professional captive management – As an owner of a cell, you generally can expect day-to-day management services from professional captive managers.

Is a Protected Cell Captive right for you?

Participation in a protected cell captive is attractive, but not for everyone. Generally speaking, mid-sized companies that are dipping their toes in captive funding are the likeliest participants given the lower barriers to entry and management assistance a PCC offers. That said, there are a number of other reasons why companies of all sizes would strategically use a cell captive to address their risk portfolio. A feasibility study will go a long way in identifying if a company is a good fit for participation in a PCC.

Want to Learn More? Contact us today to discuss a captive feasibility study, which will determine your funding requirements and whether a captive is right for you.

Spring Shortlisted For 2 Prestigious Captive Insurance Awards

captive insurance awards

Image Credit: Captive Review

We were excited to find out that Spring has made the “short list” for two 2016 US Captive Services Awards.

The awards, presented by the highly regarded industry publication Captive Review, “recognize and reward those providers of captive insurance products and services who have outperformed their competitors and demonstrated the highest levels of excellence over the past 12 months.”

This year, Spring is nominated for Actuarial Firm of the Year and Employee Benefits Consultant.

In the past, Spring has been the recipient of a number of US Captive Services Awards including Actuarial Firm of the Year, Employee Benefits Consultant and Captive Professional of the Year.

The 2016 US Captive Services Awards winners will be announced on Monday, August 8th at the Hilton in Burlington, Vermont during the Vermont Captive Insurance Association’s (VCIA) annual conference. Spring’s Managing Partner, Karin Landry, and Senior Partner, John Cassell will also be presenters at the VCIA conference this year. We will have more info on that to come soon in an additional post.

The full shortlist can be found here. More information about the US Captive Services Awards can be found here.

The Benefits of Captives for Small and Mid-Sized Businesses (White Paper)

Captives for Small Mid Sized Businesses While they were once almost exclusively risk funding mechanisms for the largest of corporations, captives have evolved over the years and a suite of captive funding options have been developed to assist businesses of all sizes.

In this paper, we seek to educate you about captive insurance, the history, benefits and the options available to small and mid-sized companies. We will explain what a cell captive is and how it can be an excellent entry point for a company into captive insurance. Finally, we will explore the next steps for your business if you decide that captive funding of your company’s risk might be a good choice and would like to explore it further.

We hope you find this paper helpful and enlightening. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact our captive consulting team. All of our contact information is listed on the final page or this paper.

To get your FREE copy of this white paper, please fill out the form below:

12 Helpful Captive Insurance Statistics and Facts

captive insurance statisticsCaptive insurance companies have been a risk funding option for decades, but the captive insurance industry has really grown significantly in size and scope over the past twenty years. What used to be a somewhat niche property & casualty funding option for the largest of corporations, is now a viable finance vehicle for business of all sizes covering all types of business risk, including employee benefits.

So how far has the captive insurance company come? Here are some helpful captive insurance statistics and facts that we have been able to uncover during the course of our consulting work. We will try to update this post fairly regularly. All stats and facts are linked to their original source, where appropriate and source dates are included.

Please note that some captive insurance stats are easier to dig up than others, so this is our best attempt to capture the most up to date information as possible using industry reports and research.

Captive Insurance Statistics

Number of captive insurers globally*:

6,939

Last checked 5/20/16


Percentage of Fortune 500 companies that have a captive:

Over 90%

Last checked 5/20/16


Number of global captive insurance domiciles:

More than 70

Last updated 3/29/16


Number of US states and territories that support captives:

35+

Last updated 2/19/15


Largest US captive domicile:

Vermont

Last checked 5/20/16


Percentage of the world’s captives that have an association with the US:

Over 75%

Last checked 5/20/16


Percentage of P&C premiums written that are written through captives:

Over 50%

Last checked 5/20/16


Percentage of global captives that are domiciled in the US:

44.6%

Last checked 5/20/16


Percentage of global captives that are domiciled in the North American offshore:

40.1%

Last checked 5/20/16


Percentage of global captives that are domiciled in Europe:

12.7%

Last checked 5/20/16


Percentage of global captives that are domiciled in the Asia-Pacific region:

2.3%

Last checked 5/20/16


Percentage of global captives that are domiciled in Canada:

0.3%

Last checked 5/20/16


10 most popular captive insurance domiciles:

Bermuda

Cayman Islands

Vermont

Utah

Anguilla

Delaware

Guernsey

Nevis

Barbados

Luxembourg

(source)

Source date: Year-end 2014


*Cell captives increase this number significantly if each cell is considered a separate captive.