The 2015 US Captive Services Awards were held in Burlington, Vermont on Monday night recognising excellence and innovation in the American marketplace.
More firms than ever before entered US edition of the only awards series dedicated to the captive insurance industry with 74 firms vying for prizes on the night.
The awards ceremony showed off the diverse nature of the North American captive industry with particularly competitive fields in all captive management categories, the US Captive Domicile award and Employee Benefits Specialist.
The two individual awards went to a regulator and a captive owner for the first time.
Michael Corbett, director of captive insurance for the State of Tennessee, picked up the Captive Insurance Professional award, while Paul Johnson, formerly director of captive operations at Verizon, was awarded the prestigious Outstanding Contribution by an Individual.
In several categories where there was a particularly close call, the judges were able to award a Highly Commended. Full list of winners below:
Category: Actuarial Firm
Judges’ comments: Milliman was able to demonstrate its leading position and experience in serving a broad captive marketplace. They have a large and strong captive practice allowing them to meet the demands of a significant client base. The Milliman submission pointed to specific examples of serving the wider captive industry in both educational and legislative activities.
Category: Collateral Service Provider
Winner: Comerica Bank
Judges’ comments: Comerica Bank was able to demonstrate the full range of collateral options it provides to its captive clients including letters of credit and reinsurance trusts. The firm was also able to show how it is filling the gap left by RBC which announced in December it was exiting the captive world.
Category: Most Innovative Use of an ART Structure
Winner: McDermott Will & Emery
Judges’ comments: The submission from McDermott Will & Emery went into great detail concerning the re-domestication and re-classification of a Barbados single parent captive into a single member LLC in the District of Columbia. The transaction allowed existing policies and reinsurance contracts to remain effective and the choice of structure ensured no impact on the client’s tax-exempt status.
Highly Commended: AMTrust Financial
Category: Tax Advisory Firm
Winner: Sutherland Asbill & Brennan
Judges’ comments: Sutherland demonstrated its contribution to a number of important tax judgements impacting on captive insurance companies in the United States, including the Validus Reinsurance Ltd case concerning federal excise tax on premiums paid to foreign (re)insurers. The judges were impressed by the volume and diversity of Sutherland’s involvement in captive tax matters.
Category: Customer Care in Group Captive Management
Winner: Artex Risk Solutions
Judges’ comments: Artex was able to communicate how it works with clients carrying diverse and varied demands. The submission also outlined the firm’s own impressive processes when working with group captives’ boards to determine their primary goals.
Highly Commended: National Interstate Insurance Company
Category: Cell Company Initiative
Winner: Ryan LLC
Judges’ comments: Ryan’s submission demonstrated in detail its protected cell company initiative in Puerto Rico and how it is benefitting captive clients. It is clear the firm has a skilled and experienced team including attorneys, CPAs and claims experts.
Category: CPA Firm
Winner: HKG CPAs
Judges’ Comments: The judges were impressed by HKG’s demonstration of client liaison and their ability to advise and guide various types of insurance entities. HKG was also able to show how the changing legal and tax landscape concerning captive insurance influenced its practice and the firm’s ability to provide significant savings through its services.
Category: Offshore Law Firm
Winner: Solomon Harris
Judges’ comments: The growing specialist insurance firm continues to consolidate its expertise in the captive sector and in Paul Scrivener they have one of the most respected legal individuals in the industry. Scrivener was heavily involved in consultation, on behalf of the private sector, with Cayman regulators when drafting the new portfolio insurance company legislation.
Category: Independent Captive Manager
Winner: MIJS Captive Management
Judges’ comments: MIJS gave three specific examples of captive success stories and were able to demonstrate significant achievements made during the 12 month judging period. Not only do they have a large geographic reach, but also showed good growth and a healthy involvement in numerous captive associations.
Highly Commended: Roundstone Management
Category: Captive Insurance Professional
Winner: Michael Corbett, Director of Captive Insurance for the State of Tennessee
Judges’ comments: Michael Corbett has led a team of highly-skilled and dedicated analysts in the business of reviewing and licensing new entities in their state. Over the past five years, there has been a number of headline grabbing emerging onshore domiciles, but this particular regulator’s dedication and consistent commitment to the industry has drawn admiration and praise from across the captive spectrum. His department licensed 42 new captives in 2014, including a range of captive types and sizes and he is almost always present at every captive related gathering on the circuit; demonstrating his commitment to the task at hand.
Category: Captive Healthcare Specialist
Winner: The Risk Authority – Stanford
Judges’ comments: The Risk Authority proved itself to be a high quality specialist in healthcare and alternative risk transfer. Well experienced in risk management, TRA was able to demonstrate its deep involvement with captives both onshore and offshore and highlighted examples of a number of successfully implemented programmes.
Highly Commended: Roundstone Management
Category: Insurance Company
Winner: National Interstate Insurance Company
Judges’ comments: The judges were impressed by National Interstate’s commitment to captive insurance and the variety of captive classes it works with. The carrier also outlined how it had evolved an insurance company it acquired five years ago into an established producer of group captives serving a specific market niche.
Category: Captive Manager
Winner: Beecher Carlson
Judges’ comments: Beecher Carlson went into great detail outlining their achievements during the judging period and demonstrated the sophistication and complexity of a number of programmes they manage. The firm’s pro-active approach to novation transactions and utilisation of branch captive laws particularly caught the judges’ eyes.
Category: Customer Care in Captive Management
Judges’ comments: Aon was able to demonstrate clearly the way they put customer care at the centre of its services for captive clients. They go the extra step to solve the problem and as a result clients are comfortable going to them to solve almost any issue. The judges were particularly impressed with the Aon Client Promise initiative.
Category: Employee Benefits Specialist
Winner: Spring Consulting
Judges’ comments: Spring Consulting have made significant progress with a number clients during the judging period by adding employee benefits to their captive programmes and were able to take immediate advantage of the Department of Labor’s fast-track ExPro process becoming available. In Karin Landry they have a proven industry figure leading their practice and the firm was also awarded an eighth US patent for employee benefits funding strategies.
Highly Commended: Willis Global Captive Practice
Category: Customer Care in Fronting
Winner: ACE Group
Judges’ comments: ACE demonstrated the variety of solutions they can provide to captive clients as well as the robust network of support that is on hand around the world. The judges were impressed by the insurer’s efforts to encourage clients to measure ACE’s own performance in a bid to continually improve.
Category: Customer Care in Investment Management
Winner: London & Capital
Judges’ comments: London & Capital’s approach to client selection impressed the judges who respected the rationale behind targeting a certain class and size of business. This ensures the firm is able to tailor its approach for each client and play to its own strengths when delivering consistent customer care.
Category: Technology Solution
Judges’ comments: Websure was able to point to live examples of its software platform in use and benefitting multi-line captives. In one example cited, they demonstrated how the Websure portal was managing both a client’s own property lines as well as third-party and affiliated insurance business that was returning a growing profit to the parent.
Category: US Captive Domicile
Judges’ comments: The depth of knowledge and expertise among Vermont’s vast team of regulators stood out for the judges, while the infrastructure within the domicile provides an innovative and competitive environment for captives to flourish. It was also emphasised that despite being an established jurisdiction, Vermont continues to review its statute on an annual basis to ensure it continues delivering efficiency and value.
Highly Commended: Delaware
Category: Innovation in Investment Management
Winner: Runnymede Capital Management
Judges’ comments: Runnymede outlined in detail how it was helping clients to lessen the effects of the Federal Reserve keeping its Fed Funds rate at zero. The firm’s evolving strategy has been incorporated into captives’ investment portfolios with the ability to adjust into “defensive positioning” when there is a need to preserve capital.
Category: Offshore Captive Domicile
Winner: Cayman Islands
Judges’ comments: Cayman demonstrated its ongoing commitment to the captive sector by passing new portfolio insurance company legislation at the start of 2015. The judges were impressed by this innovative step forward and acknowledged the jurisdiction’s leading expertise in healthcare captives in a challenging environment for that sector.
Winner: Swiss Re
Judges’ comments: Swiss Re emphasised its commitment to the captive sector with separate teams servicing single parent and group captives. The judges were particularly impressed with the wide range of business types the reinsurer works with and the “best practices” approach it takes with smaller and start-up captives.
Category: Subrogation Specialist
Winner: North American Subrogation
Judges’ comments: The judges were impressed with North American Subrogation’s belief that captives can benefit from enhanced subrogation techniques and its addition to their armoury. By offering both consultancy services to captives wanting to establish their own subrogation programme and subrogation acquisitions, they are filling an underserved need.
Category: Risk Consulting Initiative
Winner: Willis Global Captive Practice
Judges’ comments: Willis demonstrated its integrated approach towards captive clients by leveraging off the expertise of the firm’s strategic risk consulting team and utilising sophisticated risk analytics tools. The captive manager clearly outlined how advanced analytics can be applied to four key needs of captives – strategic risk financing, capital planning, transfer pricing and premium allocation.
Category: Onshore Law Firm
Winner: Morris Manning & Martin
Judges’ comments: Complimenting its dedicated work to captive clients, Morris Manning & Martin also provides substantial time and man power to the greater captive effort – particularly in the form of partner Robert “Skip” Myers, who is well-respected among captive circles. The judges were also impressed by the firm’s involvement in the Affordable Care Act, TRIA and class action issues concerning captives.
Category: Outstanding Contribution by an Individual
Winner: Paul Johnson
Judges’ comments: Paul Johnson took on the role of director of captive operations at Verizon in 2003, overseeing a complex structure of three wholly owned captives delivering significant profit to the parent company, while carrying out the number one objective of providing robust insurance cover. Paul left his role at Verizon earlier this year and remains passionate about all things captive insurance.