As society increasingly pivots towards clean and green energy solutions, driven by the imperative of sustainability and the dramatic effects of climate change, the energy landscape is undergoing a profound transformation. Companies across all industries are embracing renewable alternatives and adopting environmentally conscious practices. This shift can lead to many obstacles when it comes to liabilities and coverage. Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the International Risk Management Institute (IRMI)’s Energy Risk & Insurance Conference (ERIC) which tackled this very issue. Experts across the risk management industry convened to discuss emerging energy risks and potential solutions. I had the pleasure of presenting on this topic, “Captives—Too Late for Fossil Fuels or Too Soon for Green Energy?” and wanted to share some key insights.

The Legacy of Traditional Energy

For decades, traditional energy sources like coal, oil, and natural gas have served as the pillars of global energy infrastructure. These sources have powered industries, fueled transportation, and sustained economies worldwide. However, their reliance on finite resources and contribution to environmental degradation have brought their sustainability priorities into question.

While traditional energy remains deeply entrenched in global economies, its future is increasingly uncertain. Mounting pressure to reduce carbon emissions, coupled with the emergence of renewable alternatives, has catalyzed a shift towards cleaner energy sources.

The Promise of Renewable Energy

The rise of renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power represents a socio-economic shift towards sustainability. These sources offer cleaner alternatives, reducing carbon emissions and mitigating the impacts of climate change. Their abundance and renewable nature make them promising candidates for a greener future.

However, the transition to renewable energy has its challenges. The intermittency of renewable sources coupled with the need for infrastructure investments, presents hurdles to widespread adoption. The inertia of traditional energy industries along with regulatory complexities further slow down the pace of transition.

The Role of Captive Insurance

Amidst this energy transition, captive insurance has been at the forefront for risk management teams trying to optimize coverage and reduce costs. With few regulations, many insurers are moving away from insuring coal and creating more inclusive policies for oil and gas. It is estimated that 62% of reinsurers now have coal exit policies and 38% have oil and gas exclusions as shift away from fossil fuels accelerates.1 Insurance coverages and costs coupled with sustainability priorities have many organizations questioning if switching to alternative energy sources is critical.

On the other end of the stick, insuring green/new energy has not been easy. Although we are seeing new coverages such as leakage insurance for CO2, and coverage for solar, hydrogen, and bioenergy, pricing and underwriting remain huge issues. With any new risks, there are still untested coverages and language that may lead to future conflict when claims are filed. Many insurers also worry about the scalability of the new coverages once many companies shift to green energy; how will the underwriting processes and pricing shift or scale once more companies adopt green energy?

This natural lack of transition had sprouted a giant funding dilemma of insuring energy companies. Although many large companies are self-insured and/or adopt captive insurance as a solution, often mid and smaller companies are stuck in no-man’s-land. Many of these companies are looking into alternative funding options, such as a group captive, to help share risks with similar organizations without paying obscene premiums. This allows mid and smaller energy companies to meet lender requirements at lower rates and reduce net costs through reinsurance.

Where are Things Headed?

I expect in the coming years we may see drastic changes in how energy companies are insured; a lot depends on how committed commercial insurers are to exiting certain industries and promoting new energy coverages. There seem to be certain lines/industries that scale faster, both with regard to comprehensive underwriting processes and pricing volatility. Another significant consideration is governmental/regulatory changes. With climate change as a major political issue, policyholders and insurance companies may need to adapt more quickly if regulations are passed pushing for the use of green energy.

In conclusion, the dichotomy between old and new energy and how to properly insure them is a hot-button topic in the risk world. As older energy sources, such as coal, are becoming more and more uninsurable, newer green energy sources are untested and challenging to underwrite. We are in an interesting position where insurance companies and policyholders know they must shift towards renewable energy but cannot properly insure it (yet). Although alternative funding options, such as captive insurance, have proved thus far to be a solution, there are still so many unforeseen variables that will undoubtedly affect how energy is insured.


In a recent podcast from Global Captive Podcast, president and CEO of edRISK, Tracy Hassett, and our SVP, Prabal Lakhanpal, dive into the history of edRISK and how educational institutions have been able to leverage a captive to reduce health insurance costs and reduce liability. You can find the full podcast episode here.

Every year, the Risk Management Society (RIMS) hosts its annual RISKWORLD conference, serving as an opportunity for 10,000+ risk professionals to convene and discuss the industry’s future. Against the backdrop of San Diego, this year’s conference was a testament to the ever-evolving landscape of risk management and insurance. As industries grapple with unprecedented challenges, the conference emerged as a beacon of insight, fostering discussions on cutting-edge practices, emerging trends, and innovative strategies. Here are some of the most popular topics discussed during this year’s conference.

The insurance industry is constantly evolving, presenting both opportunities and obstacles for risk management professionals. These sessions explored the latest trends, regulatory changes, and strategic approaches to navigating the dynamic landscape of risk management.

2. Forward-Thinking Approaches and Strategies

Innovation lies at the heart of effective risk management, and RISKWORLD 2024 showcased forward-thinking tactics for staying ahead. From optimizing risk transfer and resilience planning to exploring new methodologies for risk assessment and mitigation, attendees gained valuable insights into cutting-edge techniques and innovative strategies that are reshaping the landscape of risk management, ensuring they are well-equipped to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

3. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion has become a strategic imperative for organizations across industries. These sessions highlighted the importance of fostering inclusive workplaces, advancing DEI initiatives, and leveraging diverse perspectives for business success.

4. AI, Technology, and Innovation

Innovation in technology is transforming the insurance landscape. These sessions delved into the role of artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and data analytics in shaping the future of risk management.

As the curtains draw on another successful RISKWORLD conference, the Spring team and I had a great time tuning into some insightful sessions and reconnecting with industry leaders. The spirit of collaboration and innovation was lively this year, and I’m excited to see what next year’s conference has in store for us.

The world of employee benefits is ever-changing. What’s hot one year may not be the next, and we are constantly seeing new products and vendors enter the market. The ebb and flow of employee benefits are typically driven by factors like workforce demands and demographics, the landscape for retention and recruitment, the economy, trends in the healthcare industry, and technological advancements. Sometimes, though, the most prominent trends stem from employers wanting to go back to the basics to understand what will drive value for employees and yield results.  This doesn’t always mean selecting the “big shiny object” of the moment.

Right now, we’re in a post-pandemic world, with an economy that seems to be recovering but still has many weary, and healthcare costs that just won’t quit. Given these factors and what we are hearing from clients and colleagues, we’ve put together this list of benefits areas you should be paying attention to in 2024.

1. Healthcare Affordability

Healthcare cost trend for 2024 is projected to be around 7%. Prescription drug costs are a large factor within this bucket, but so are inflation, healthcare worker shortages, and other causes. As a result, many organizations are strategizing around how they can offer benefits that are more affordable not just for them but for their employees. Some tactics include taking a fresh look at your plan design, cost-sharing model, and pharmacy benefit program. We are also seeing a big push toward alternative funding like captive insurance or other self-insured models. Employers may also want to take more simple actions like reprioritizing preventive care and wellness to lessen the prevalence of chronic conditions and avoid high claims costs.

Another big trend is the coverage of GLP-1 drugs for weight loss, such as Ozempic and Wegovy, a decision over which many employers are weighing the pros and cons.

2. Financial Wellness

Related to affordability, there has been a resurgence of interest in programs like 401(k)s, pension plans, student debt repayment benefits, tuition reimbursement, financial literacy and coaching, and the like. In fact, Wellable reports that 30% of companies have increased their budgets related to financial wellness in 2024. Last year, IBM announced they were bringing back their pension plan in place of their previous 401(k) match program. Regardless of your priorities, there is a large market of solutions available. We recommend doing a deep dive into your population’s needs and assessing current options (e.g., 401(k) company match), to better understand how you can strategically enhance financially focused benefits.

3. Family-Forward Benefits

Benefits with families in mind include programs around parental leave, family and medical leave, caregiver leave or assistance, women’s health and reproductive benefits, bereavement leave, childcare assistance, flexible work schedules, and more. A dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA) is a specific solution that can offset the costs of daycare or other needs. If you’re looking to make your programs more family-friendly, check out this checklist.

4. Customization

Offering tailored benefits that are personalized for an employee will continue to be a leading objective. This might include benefits like Lifestyle Spending Accounts, flexible time off or hybrid work models, voluntary benefits like pet insurance or identity theft, commuter benefits, Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), and more. This approach means ensuring your program is inclusive of all employees regardless of geography, gender, age, race, sexual orientation, etc., and allows for choice between the options available. It also means meeting employees where they are and ensuring you are covering your bases when it comes to telehealth and mental health services.

5. Upskilling & Professional Development

Employers increasingly understand that it is often worth the investment to upskill current talent rather than to continuously hire out for certain roles. This is not only good for business but goes a long way in the realms of employee morale, engagement, and productivity. In fact, a 2022 Conference Board report found that 58% of those surveyed would be more likely to leave if not provided professional development skills and opportunities. As such, we have seen an uptick in programs surrounding mentorship, education and training, including learning management systems, peer coaching, job rotations, and well-defined career paths based on certain milestones.

We’re excited to see these trends take shape and the impacts they’ll have on the benefits sphere! If you could use help evaluating or implementing any facet of your benefits program, please get in touch with the Spring team.

Preventive care is a critical component to wellness. Often people without known health issues overlook their preventive care, but it is critical to prevent illness as well as identify conditions or diseases early on. Healthcare has historically focused on treatment of disease, but prevention is just as important, and employers are focused on prevention in order to manage cost, productivity and overall employee wellbeing. 

Defining Preventive Care

Preventive care begins with an annual visit to your primary care provider, which may be a physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or medical doctor.  These providers practice general medicine and can be your gateway to additional providers as necessary.  In some instances, OBGYNs may also be deemed primary care providers. 

Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed, true preventive care has been available at no out-of-pocket costs for individuals enrolled in health insurance through their employer or the marketplace, assuming they seek care in-network. Additionally, utilization of preventative services can lead to decreased medical care costs due to decreased inpatient care and higher prioritization of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, the National Center for Biotechnology Information reported that a 90% delivery rate of primary preventive services could reduce healthcare expenditures by $53.9 billion.

While the minimal cost of these services for individuals should encourage high utilization, very few people access all the recommended preventive services, and this has declined over the past decade. For instance, in 2015, 8.5% of adults aged 35 and above received appropriate recommended clinical preventative services. This decreased to 6.9% in 2018 and 5.3% in 2020.1 While the use of preventive services in 2020 took a hit largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the negative trend in general is cause for concern. The cause for this decline is unknown but could be due to overall confusion and exhaustion among healthcare consumers in trying to navigate the landscape.

Preventive Care vs. Office Visits

Some patients are frustrated and confused when they seek preventive care (i.e., annual visit to a provider) but are billed and charged for an office visit.  This is a challenge, partially due to billing codes, and one that the state and federal governments may address in the future. 

To clarify, a preventive visit is to review your overall health, identify risks, and talk about staying healthy.  An office visit is time to discuss a specific health concern or condition.  Unfortunately, if a patient has a health issue, it’s nearly impossible to have a preventive visit without that conversation expanding into an office visit.  If this is a concern, patients should talk to their provider in advance to avoid confusion or unexpected charges.  

Defining Prevention

Preventive care is used to refer to routine screenings, tests, checkups, patient counseling and vaccines, which vary based on an individual’s risk factors and phase in life. Preventative screenings include2:

In addition to the list above from discussion around family history, personal risks, physical assessment (weight, height, blood pressure, pulse, assessment of heart and lungs, visual assessment of ears, eyes, throat, skin, and abdomen), and routine screenings for cancer (breast, cervical and prostate) are typically included in your annual exam.3

These tests and general preventative services can help identify specific risk factors in an individual’s life that may lead to possible disease. Early identification and treatment can increase longevity or quality of life and avoid more costly procedures down the road.

Employer Focus on Prevention

Employers typically view preventative care as an opportunity to both reduce their medical costs as well as support employee wellness and productivity and should find ways to encourage the use of these services by their employees. Some simple campaigns that focus on educating their employee population about available in-network services and the importance of care when they are healthy can support this goal. Employers have also looked to develop wellness programs for the workplace to incent employees to make healthy lifestyle decisions as well as make those lifestyle choices more accessible. Some health plans also have incentives built in for activities like making your annual physical appointment or joining a gym.

The benefits to preventative care exist for everyone – employers will benefit from a healthier and more engaged workforce that leads to lesser claims costs, and employees can reduce health risks by acting before illness or disease can cause a significant impact on their lives.

As an employer, you should work with your third party administrator or carrier to understand how your population is doing against screening targets.  If you are falling short, or having returned to pre-pandemic levels it may be in the best interest of your employees to educate them on preventive care, share targets with them and perhaps build incentives for prevention.  This should go beyond medical to also look at dental and vision screenings, which are often a solid predictor of overall preventive health. Some of our clients, like the edHEALTH consortium, offer additional reporting, insights, and resources to support their educational institutions when it comes to promoting preventive care.

If you could use guidance around how to drive participation in preventive care within your population, the Spring team would be happy to help.

1 Healthy People 2030, Adults receiving recommended clinical preventive services, 2015-2020
3 Institutions who are self-insured have flexibility in offering benefits; however, the coverage provided in the Affordable Care Act provides a solid baseline.

We have all greeted our alarm clocks with disgust at times or been a bit overzealous with the snooze button, but what if your sleep pattern was so strained that every morning you and your alarm had a passive-aggressive standoff?  How long could you tolerate that lack of sleep before your work or personal life was negatively impacted, and what, if anything, could help you find more rest to be the best version of yourself? 

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that approximately 43% of workers are sleep-deprived, and that an overtired population is less productive, less present, and a potential safety risk. Organizations with safety sensitive positions or third shift workers have a greater risk, but all fatigued employees pose a greater risk to themselves and their employer than those that are well-rested. 

Similar statistics from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that many American adults (35%) get inadequate sleep (defined as under seven hours); and they indicate that lack of sleep is associated with increased risks for cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression, and all-cause mortality. Employee burnout is another phenomenon that is exacerbated if sleep issues exist.  

As employers embrace the expansion of benefit offerings, sleep has entered the scene as a potential issue that needs addressing. Organizations are assessing how they can implement sleep education, tracking, and resolution for their employees with the goal of arriving at a more productive and healthier workforce.  Employee benefit offerings surrounding sleep include some or all of the following features:

Selecting the optimal solution for employees can be challenging, especially given that price points vary considerably, and employees are fatigued by all the available solutions.  The best place to start is by examining the data available to you and try to assess if undiagnosed sleep disorders are a pain point within your organization.  From there, consider how sleep support aligns with your overall wellness and well-being offering.  Education around sleep is a strong entry point to talk about self-care and mindfulness without the stigma that surrounds conversations around behavioral health and substance abuse.  Every one of us wants a better relationship with our alarm clock. Conveniently, many of the remedies for better sleep habits support better physical, emotional and psychological health as well.  Given this, sleep tracking might just be the next big employee perk.  Set your alarm, or you just might miss the trend.

Over the past five years, the outsourced vendor landscape has evolved related to the administration of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Carriers and third-party administrators (TPA) who previously supported employers with leave compliance at the federal and state levels (i.e. FMLA, MA PFML, CT PFL, etc.) are now proficient in ADA and will support employers with their compliance requirements. 

Product offerings vary in the market, with some including support for leave as an accommodation exclusively and others providing support with all accommodations including leave.  The assistance available from vendor partners also differs, with some supporting the entire process end-to-end, including coordination of the interactive process with supervisors and employees, while others support data collection but leave the interactive process to supervisors, employees, and HR.  At this point, all carriers and TPAs agree that the ultimate decision on the accommodation rests exclusively with the employer, including evaluation of the potential hardship. 

Employers with minimal accommodation requests likely do not need support from an external partner.  For those employers, it is usually optimal to build some subject matter expertise internally within HR and funnel requests through that resource.  At a high level that process should include the following steps:

Although the supervisor is a critical part of the process, we typically recommend that supervisors do not independently manage the ADA process – especially if the volume of requests is small – as they may not understand the compliance requirements.  In addition, they often only have a view into their business unit or team, making it impossible for them to understand how the broader organization would define a hardship under the ADA as compared to their team or business unit. 

If the volume of accommodation requests is high or subject matter expertise does not exist in-house, leveraging your external provider may be a strong option.  By co-sourcing the ADA solution, you can leverage the expertise of the external vendor but leave decision-making to your team, including HR, supervisor and employee.  Key assessment of an ADA offering includes the following:

Regardless of the partner selected, employers can never fully outsource the accommodation process.  Although it often feels like a burden, returning accommodated employees to the workplace is in the best interest of everyone.  The ADA does not require that employers remove essential job functions, but it does ensure that disabled employees who are able to perform the essential functions of their job with an accommodation receive those legally required accommodations. 

If you need support with your accommodation process and compliance with ADA, free resources are available through the Job Accommodation Network ( or feel free to reach out to our team for guidance.

As we entered Spring, we had the pleasure of attending the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC)’s FMLA/ADA Employer Compliance Conference last week. The event brings together absence management, health and welfare experts, including attorneys, to discuss trending updates and methodologies in the world of absence/disability management compliance. Here is a snapshot of sessions I found engaging, representing top areas of interest this year.

Compliance remains a cornerstone for employers navigating the complex web of regulations. Here are some sessions that dove deep into different areas of compliance concerns:

– A group of former military personnel tackled the unique circumstance of addressing employees currently or formally serving in the military. Their session was titled “Can-U-SERRA?”

– The session, “Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act (PWFA): A View From the Top,” reviewed resources pregnant employees have and what employers must do to stay compliant.

– In the interactive session, “State Your Leave: A Case Study Expedition Through Multiple States,” attendees were tasked with determining which laws/regulations take precedence over others.

-Two federal agency leaders clarified recent “Insights from the DOL and EEOC: Current FMLA and ADA Challenges,” which outlined recent regulatory updates and how HR teams should address them.

2. Addressing Unique Challenges

HR teams nationwide must adapt to new regulatory updates and shifting best practices. Below are some insightful presentations that outline unique scenarios and how to tackle them.

– Counsel from Reliance Matrix explained “How to Manage an Uncooperative Employee Under the ADA.” They outlined what medical information employers can request, important deadlines and best practices.

– My session, “How Workforce Flexibility Translates to Absence Management Success,” reviewed quantitative data that suggests more flexible employers see higher return-to-work rates and showcased specific employer case studies.

– I was joined by AbsenceSoft’s Chief Strategy Officer, Seth Turner, to discuss “How to Evaluate and Mature Your Leave Program.” We shared a maturity model for leave management and provided suggestions for streamlining and optimizing leave programs.

3. Ensuring Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Championing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) remains a top priority for HR and benefit teams across the US. With that, DEI was a hot-button topic at this year’s conference; here are some related sessions I would like to spotlight.

– The penultimate presentation, “One Workplace, Many Generations: Compliant Benefits for All,” helped identify ways to satisfy a multi-generational workforce with benefit offerings while staying compliant.

– The bonus session, “Supporting Employees During Pregnancy and Childbirth,” helped attendees understand current federal laws impacting pregnant workers including state anti-discrimination laws and paid family and medical leave laws.

– “Workplace Religious Accommodation Requests: What You Need to Know” provided great insights when it comes to ensuring employees of all religious beliefs are protected, and HR professionals are aware of federal resources and regulations.

As the conference concluded, attendees departed with a wealth of knowledge and insights to navigate the evolving landscape of leave management. With a renewed focus on compliance best practices like those mentioned above, organizations are poised to effectively support their workforce and meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. I am excited to see what DMEC’s Annual Conference has in store for us in August.

Every year, the Captive Insurance Companies Association (CICA)’s Annual Conference stands as a beacon for professionals in the captive insurance industry, offering a platform for learning, networking, and collaboration. With a rich array of sessions covering diverse topics, this year’s event, held in Scottsdale, Arizona, provided attendees with invaluable insights into pressing issues and emerging trends shaping the alternative risk financing landscape. Here are a few pivotal topics that captured the attention of participants.

Navigating Regulatory Dynamics

Regulatory changes are a constant in the world of captive insurance, influencing everything from taxation to domicile selection. Professionals in the field must stay abreast of these shifts to ensure compliance and operational efficiency. Many captive insurance professionals spoke about adapting to evolving regulatory frameworks, emphasizing the importance of staying informed and proactive. Here are some notable sessions:

Harnessing Innovation for Growth

Innovation lies at the heart of successful captive ventures, offering opportunities for enhanced risk management and increased cost savings. From exploring new risk transfer mechanisms to leveraging cutting-edge technology, captive professionals are continuously seeking innovative solutions to drive their organizations forward. The sessions below explore how to optimize risk management practices and capitalize on emerging opportunities for growth:

– Spring’s Vice President, TJ Scherer, presented a session titled “Breaking Down Barriers of Entry to Captives for Employee Benefit Professionals.” The session spotlighted ideal cases for a medical stop-loss group captive and common barriers that prevent the progression of captives.

– A group of service provider veterans explained the importance of “Building (and Keeping) Your Reputation” in the captive industry, including in-person networking, social media presence and more.

– Our Managing Partner, Karin Landry, presented on “Parametric Coverage: Bridging Gaps and a Bridge to the Future.” She helped lay out a roadmap for captive owners and risk managers to leverage parametric insurance to fund complex risks concurrently with their captive programs.

Addressing Emerging Risks

The risk landscape is constantly evolving, presenting new challenges and uncertainties for the captive industry. From cyber threats to climate change, emerging risks demand proactive risk management strategies to mitigate potential impacts. I wanted to share these sessions that focused on identifying and addressing emerging risks:

– The presentation “Insuring the Uninsurable: Finding Solutions to Challenging Risks” used California’s wildfire insurance crisis as a case study to explore how third-party coverage solves unique business problems.

– With nearly one trillion in runoff liabilities, the session “Runoff Liability Transfers: Mitigating Exposure to Your Captive” explained residual liability, the mechanisms for transfer to third parties, and the benefits, processes and timeframes.

– My session, “US Benefits and the Changing Landscape,” analyzed how employee benefit programs can potentially offer captive third-party coverages, improving the captive’s risk distribution framework and allowing for greater efficiencies and returns.

Fostering Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are increasingly recognized as essential components of a successful captive operation. Ensuring all parties (including covered employees of all backgrounds) have equitable access to benefits and are properly informed is the bedrock of a successful program. Here are some presentations I thought best highlight the importance of prioritizing DEI initiatives to drive excellence and long-term success.

– A group of experts explained the importance of “Driving Captive Innovation & Growth Through Diversity” and the critical role diversity plays in fostering a well-rounded captive and benefits program.

– The session, “Bridging the Generational Divide: Strategies for Effective Communication & Collaboration” brought to light a unique perspective when it comes to training the next generation of captive experts and spotlighted the importance of collaboration and productive communication.

– One of my favorite parts of the conference is the annual CICA Student Essay! This contest gives undergraduates the opportunity to establish a captive for their specific case study, select policy options, determine underwriting, pricing and more.

As a board member of CICA and the association’s secretary/treasurer, it was a pleasure attending and presenting at this year’s conference. The annual conference serves as a catalyst for dialogue, collaboration, and innovation within the captive insurance community. I had a great time tuning into insightful sessions, chatting with industry experts, and enjoying some fun happy hours. I am excited to see what next year’s conference has in store for us!