Since I started my career in this space many moons ago, I have seen the captive industry continuously grow and evolve. There have been new risks, changes in regulatory and Department of Labor (DOL) policies and protocols, economic fluctuations, the addition of technologies, and the integration of captive programs focused on different lines, whether employee benefits or property and casualty (P&C). As I believe we are at the cusp of the next era of change for captives, I wanted to connect with captive owners and risk managers to gather their outlook on where we are today and where we’re headed.

I sat down with David Arick, who is currently the President of RIMS, the risk management society® and Managing Director, Global Risk Management at Sedgwick. He has previously held insurance and risk management roles at companies like International Paper and General Electric, and brings forth a wide range of experience spanning decades.

Q: How has the hard insurance market impact risk professionals’ ability to financial cover their organizations’ top risks?

A: Different industries have had different experiences in this market. My last job was in the packaging and forest products industry and it, along with other sectors like transportation, have been challenged. The hard market coupled with specific insurance conditions like nuclear verdicts and natural disasters on the P&C side have been driving up property costs. Cyber insurance has also faced obstacles. The economics of a specific company along with the insurance budgets that get blown out of the water really have people looking for alternatives like captives.

Q: What do you feel are some of the contributing factors that have led to the increased popularity in captives?

A: Aside from what I mentioned above, captives are no longer uncommon or kept behind closed doors; they are now a part of mainstream risk management and C-suites are willing to make the investment given the volatile insurance markets they are facing.

Q: What benefits are most appropriate for organizations to place in their captives? Have you seen any new developments in this area?

A: From a risk management perspective, I hear my fellow risk managers talking about three areas where benefits and captives can interplay:

  1. Global benefits. Risk managers are hoping that captives can help stabilize programs that historically were variable and volatile across different countries, particularly with a workforce moving between countries.
  2. Medical stop-loss. Captives are playing a huge role in this area where a risk manager can partner with HR in understanding stop loss buying options available thanks to the captive and also creating savings and flexibility within the program.
  3. ERISA benefits. Multinational companies have been focused here in terms of trends, take-up rates, etc. Benefits spend in the US is more significant than in other countries and to that end there is renewed interest in utilizing a captive to address these rising costs.
Q: I’ve heard you say before, “risk management is much more than buying insurance or financing losses,” can you elaborate on that statement a bit?

A: Both risk management and insurance buying are critical aspects of running a business. The point is that I would hope that risk management could be more strategic, aimed at creating risk awareness and focused on people, processes, and technology in addition to the more traditional items like mitigation plans, business continuity and the like.

Q: This year, as RIMS President, what are some of your priorities for the organization and the risk management profession overall?

A: I would like to improve the perception of risk management by increasing education and development for those in the field, so that we can more broadly speak the same language. RIMS has developed a global certification for risk management education called the RIMS-CRMP that is ANSI-accredited and meant to build credibility around the profession. We are investing in our future by highlighting the careers available and introducing risk management curricula to more colleges and universities. It’s important that we routinely assess how to support new talent that joins the field in their professional growth and that is what we’re focused on. 

Q: What insights can you offer a risk professional who is either considering starting a captive or who has just started one?

A: I promise you didn’t make me answer the question in this way, but I truly think organizations need to search for the best captive advisors and not just default to their primary brokerage team. An existing team may be sufficient in handling most needs, but a captive is unique and you need an expert team in place, from consultants to lawyers, to captive managers and the like. Secondly, I will say that a risk management professional needs to prioritize building internal support and alignment for an initiative like a captive, including finance, accounting, treasury, legal, and tax. Internal buy-in is critical to long-term success.