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Ask the Regulator Q&A

  1. Is there any FET or other premium taxes payable to the US or US states where the risks originate for premium payments to Vermont captives?
  2. Is there a tax upon reinsurance premiums being paid from the captive in Vermont to reinsurers protecting the captive or does the reinsurance premium tax of 0.38% refer to when the captive acts as a reinsurer and reinsures other insurance companies?
  3. How does "credit for reinsurance" work and where can I find it in the statute?
  4. What is a Captive Insurance Company?
  5. What is the Profile of the Captive Industry?
  6. How are Captives Regulated?
  7. How often are captives examined in Vermont?
  8. How long does the examination process take?
  9. Why does Vermont require us to hold our annual meeting in Vermont?
  10. Do RRG's have to file for an NAIC Company Code?
  11. Do other forms of captives require an NAIC Company Code?
  12. Does the state of Vermont require the submission of an annual review/actuarial opinion by an independent actuary?
  13. Does the independent actuary need to get approved by the state of Vermont?
  14. Can a captive insurance company be an accredited reinsurer in any state?
  15. Are there any trends so far from the 1st quarter captives for 2011?



Ask the Regulator Q & A




Q:

Is there any FET or other premium taxes payable to the US or US states where the risks originate for premium payments to Vermont captives?

A:

There is no FET tax, that we are aware of on premium flowing into a Vermont captive.  If the captive is licensed only in Vermont, the policyholder may owe a direct placement tax on premiums paid to the captive. If the captive is licensed in another state, the policyholder would owe surplus lines tax to that state. 


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Q:

Is there a tax upon reinsurance premiums being paid from the captive in Vermont to reinsurers protecting the captive or does the reinsurance premium tax of 0.38% refer to when the captive acts as a reinsurer and reinsures other insurance companies?

 

A:

The assumed tax rate of 0.38% refers to assumed premiums coming in to the captive. There is no Vermont captive tax on premiums flowing out to reinsurers.


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Q:

How does "credit for reinsurance" work and where can I find it in the statute?

A:

Credit for reinsurance allows an insurer to reduce or offset its loss reserves by the amount of risk ceded to a reinsurer.

8 VSA §6011(b) allows captive insurers to take credit for risks ceded to certain reinsurers.  This section states:

“Any captive insurance company may take credit for the reinsurance of risks or portion of risks ceded to reinsurers complying with the provisions of subsections 3634(a) through (f) of this title.  Prior approval of the commissioner shall be required for ceding or taking credit for the reinsurance of risks or portions of risks ceded to reinsurers not complying with subsections 3634(a) through (f) of this title, except for business written by an alien captive insurance company outside of the United States.”

The section references Vermont’s traditional company statute 8 VSA §3634(a)-(f) which is similar to the NAIC model credit for reinsurance act adopted by most states.  In simple terms, it allows credit for risks ceded to the following:

  • Insurers licensed in Vermont
  • Reinsurers licensed in Vermont
  • Insurers domiciled and licensed in a state which employs substantially similar standards regarding credit for reinsurance
  • Insurers which maintain a trust fund in a qualified US financial institution, approved by the Commissioner, for the payment of the valid claims of its US policyholders and ceding insurers.

 Vermont also included a provision at the end of §6011(b) to authorize credit for reinsurance, with prior approval of the Commissioner, for risks ceded to insurers not complying with the above.  This allows Vermont captives to take credit for risks ceded to alien insurers not licensed in the US.  In approving the credit, we consider the insurers financial status, its domicile and the portion of risk ceded.  We have had many captive insurers take advantage of this provision.

The very last lines of the section “except for business written by an alien captive insurance company outside of the United States” was included in the statute when we adopted captive branch statute in 1999.  This addition clarifies that an alien captive insurance company, with a branch in Vermont may reinsure its non-branch business without Vermont’s prior approval. 


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Q:

What is a Captive Insurance Company?

A:

A captive insurance company is a closely held insurance company whose insurance business is primarily supplied by and controlled by owners, and in which the original insureds are the principal beneficiaries. The insureds have direct involvement and influence over the company's major operations, including underwriting, claims and management policy and investments.There are currently 5,000 captives licensed worldwide that service their parents' risk financing needs. In Vermont, that figure is over 900.

Vermont's captive owners represent a wide range of industries including multi-national corporations, associations, banks, municipalities, transportation and airline companies, power producers, public housing authorities, higher education institutions, telecommunications suppliers, shipping companies, insurance companies and manufacturers, among others.


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Q:

What is the Profile of the Captive Industry?

A:

The majority of captives are "pure", meaning they are 100% owned by a single entity. However, there are numerous "group" captives including: industrial insured, association-sponsored, and "risk retention groups", which are companies licensed under federal risk retention legislation and operating as captives. In Vermont, CICs are supported by a mature infrastructure comprised of seventeen management companies and professional service industries including banking, legal, accounting and actuarial firms that cater to the captive client.


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Q:

How are Captives Regulated?

A:

Commercial insurance companies sell insurance to the general public and are licensed in all states in which they do business. By contrast, CICs directly insure only their owners, who are sophisticated insureds, with the ability to manage and retain their own risk. Consequently, the degree of regulatory oversight required for captives is less than that which is required for commercial insurers. The captive is licensed in only one state, and operates under the captive insurance law of that domicile.


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Q:

How often are captives examined in Vermont?

A:

By statute, a captive is examined every 3-5 years. The Captive Insurance Division examines all risk retention groups (RRG) every 3 years. All pure captives are examined every 4-5 years. Other group programs are examined every 4 years.


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Q:

How long does the examination process take?

A:

Pure captives typically take one week. A large pure program may take two weeks. RRGs typically take three weeks and for other group programs, two weeks is expected. The majority of examinations are performed at the Vermont captive manager's offices. The exception is for group programs when claims and underwriting testing is typically performed out of state.


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Q:

Why does Vermont require us to hold our annual meeting in Vermont?

A:

8 V.S.A. - 6002(b)(2) states "No captive insurance company shall do any insurance business in this state unless: ?(2) its board of directors, or committee of managers or, in the case of a reciprocal insurer, its subscribers' advisory committee, holds at least one meeting each year in this state;"

The requirement was part of the original legislation passed in 1981 for economic reasons. Bringing people to Vermont was a selling point for creating captive insurance in Vermont. However, the meeting requirement has since come to mean much more for the captive industry itself.

We addressed this issue in a memo ten years ago (Memo #94/1) after supporting a change to the corporate code allowing corporations to reduce their quorum to as low as one-third. We supported the change, primarily because it reduces the hardship on group captives that tend to have large boards of directors in order to provide broad representation among members. This change could also allow a pure captive to establish a board of three persons, one being the required Vermont resident. A meeting involving only the Vermont resident director would not evidence satisfactory board supervision of the company. Memo #94/1 allows a meeting at which a quorum is present in Vermont to satisfy the statute. However, we require that a representative of the company who is involved in the operation of the captive attend the Vermont meeting in person. Conference telephone participation is fine so long as a quorum and the parent's representative is physically present in Vermont.

Vermont's flexible and open regulatory approach depends on periodic communication between the regulators and the captive owners. Bringing the representative of the company to Vermont enhances this communication.

Visiting Vermont at least annually also provides more time with the Vermont manager and other service providers than would be allowed by conference call using a set agenda for the board meeting. This extra time allows the manager to better update the captive representative on current events within the industry and answer questions personally. This provides extra value to the captive.

We do understand that the annual meeting requirement can be a hardship and have made many allowances over the years: after 9/11 when many companies did not allow travel and employees did not wish to travel, and for last minute health or weather problems that made travel difficult.


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Q:

Do RRG's have to file for an NAIC Company Code?

A:

Yes. Risk Retention Groups must request and receive a Company Code from the NAIC. You can find the request form at naic.org. A certified copy of your license is required which we can issue as requested.

Risk Retention Groups must also file annual and quarterly statements with the NAIC and are subject to accreditation standards. RRG's must also file quarterly statements with the states they are registered and also with the domiciliary state.


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Q:

Do other forms of captives require an NAIC Company Code?

A:

Other forms of captives are not required to have a Company Code but may find it needed. Your fronting carrier will ask for your company code to complete its Annual Statement filings. Other states may come across the captive name and ask the NAIC who you are. Having a company code lets the NAIC know you are a Vermont captive and are not required to file with the NAIC. This saves time and trouble.

Vermont periodically updates its captive listings with the NAIC. The NAIC assigns a company code, notes that it is a captive, and also notes that the captive is not required to file with the NAIC.


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Q:

Does the state of Vermont require the submission of an annual review/actuarial opinion by an independent actuary?

A:

Yes! Here is the scope of the actuarial review: The actuary must opine on the reserves reported in the annual statement, generally that:
1. reserves are computed in accordance with accepted actuarial standards,
2. reserves are based on assumptions which produce reserves at least as great as those called for in any contract provision, and are in accord with all other contract provisions,
3. reserves meet the requirements of the laws and regulations of Vermont
4. reserves include provision for all actuarial reserves and related items which ought to be established.


Included will be all sorts of caveats and qualifications. It's pretty much a standard actuarial opinion on reserves. We recommend that you consult with your appointed actuary regarding the scope of their opinion. We do not require the filing of supporting reports, but they should be available for examination.


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Q:

Does the independent actuary need to get approved by the state of Vermont?

A:

Yes, and we're very picky! (actually, it's a breeze, and free.)
To become approved in Vermont, an individual actuary should submit the "Application for Authorization to Certify Loss Reserves", which is found on the Captive Division's website under General Licensing Instructions & Forms.


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Q: Can a captive insurance company be an accredited reinsurer in any state?
A:

 

A captive can be considered under another states' laws and regulations for an insurer to gain credit for reinsurance, but the captive may be subject to certain filing and/or collateral requirements as an accredited or approved reinsurer in that state.

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Q: Are there any trends so far from the 1st quarter captives of 2011?
A:

 

None! Seven captives were licensed in the first quarter, none of which had anything remotely in common with the others.  four pure captives were licensed, with parent companies in Energy, Retail, Manufacturing and Real Estate; two RRGs formed, one for medical professional liability, the other for attorneys professional liability; and one Special Purpose Financial Captive was licensed.  The only trend is a continuation of the broad spectrum of companies that can make use of a captive.

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