Companies around the world have found captive insurance to be a useful tool for managing risk. And in this hard insurance market, more and more companies are seeing material advantages to managing their particular risks through captive insurance. One of the most critical decisions to make in establishing a captive insurance company is where to domicile it. While there are a number of domiciles to choose from, the U.S. state of Vermont offers an attractive choice for international companies.
Globally, Vermont is a leader in gross written premium and assets under management, and ranked third in the number of active captive insurance companies, with over 10% of its active captives owned by non-U.S. companies. Vermont is also a seven-time winner of Captive Review’s top U.S. Domicile honor. And, as recently as last month, Vermont was selected as 2020’s International Domicile of the Year as part of the European Captive Review Awards hosted by Captive Review.
Why the recognition and selection by some of the largest companies in the world? There are three primary reasons: Vermont’s experience, infrastructure, and government support.
Vermont was an early adopter of captive insurance. Celebrating its 40th anniversary next year, Vermont enacted its captive insurance legislation in 1981. Through the years, Vermont has gained a reputation as being a stable and experienced domicile. In fact, it is commonly referred to as the “gold standard” domicile in the captive industry.
This reputation is largely due to the culture developed by its regulatory leadership – a commitment to high-quality standards, fairness, and understanding companies’ strategic objectives to provide the best solutions for getting the most out of their captives. It also helps that Vermont’s regulatory leadership is very highly respected and has decades of experience, giving them the confidence and ability to be flexible, where warranted, in finding innovative ways to structure risk protection. This is reflected by not only the numbers (as of the end of 2019, Vermont captives had $25 billion in gross written premium and $212 billion in assets, and as of September 30, 2020, 1,186 captives have been licensed), but also by the companies that have chosen Vermont as their captive domicile (42 of the Fortune 100 and 15 of the Dow Jones 30).
With this experience comes an array of options. Vermont permits captives to write nearly all lines of business insurance coverage, including less common types of coverage like cyber, terrorism, and environmental impairment, and represents all major industry sectors, including healthcare, manufacturing, construction and insurance.
In addition to highly experienced regulatory leadership, Vermont has a deep and broad supporting infrastructure. Within the state captive division itself, there are over 30 regulators with insurance and accounting experience. This capacity is something that distinguishes Vermont from other domiciles and enables it to work at the speed of business, responding to new captive applications within 30 days and business plan changes within 5 days or less. Combined with a full slate of captive managers, actuaries, accountants, attorneys and other Vermont service providers specializing in captives, ensures that companies get comprehensive and expert support in establishing and operating their captives.
Vermont also is the home of the largest captive insurance trade association in the world. With over 400 member organizations, the Vermont Captive Insurance Association (VCIA) provides its members with legislative support at the federal and state levels, hosts and supports a myriad of educational programs, and offers a variety of networking opportunities, including its highly-attended annual conference.
Vermont takes great pride in its captive industry, valuing the benefits it provides to the state, and is committed to leading the way as the industry evolves and adapts to the inevitable changes in risk management. There is strong, bipartisan support of the Vermont captive industry from the Vermont Governor and the elected officials in the state legislature.
The legislature is very attentive to the captive legislative framework, with updates every year, based on regulator experience and feedback from Vermont captives, to address issues that arise and to keep the statutes and regulations current with this ever changing industry.
Vermont also offers an attractive tax structure, with competitive premium tax rates and captive profits not being subject to state income tax. Its tax structure, however, is not at a level that it risks being deemed a tax haven by foreign countries and creating a disincentive for international companies to domicile their captives here.
Vermont’s not standing on its laurels
Vermont continues to expand its international presence in the captive industry, focusing now on emerging as well as established captive markets. After having to cancel an in-person conference last winter due to the pandemic, Vermont teamed up with the VCIA, and the U.S. Department of Commerce to virtually host the first international trade mission with Mexico this past September. The conference addressed the specific needs of the Mexican market and the benefits of Vermont as a captive domicile.
Of particular interest was the presentation made by Alejandro J. Santos, Senior Vice President, Analytics and Captive Solutions LAC, Marsh Advisory, who noted that Mexican business owners should carefully consider any tax implications of owning and operating a captive insurance company, and added that, “while Vermont may not have been a domicile of choice for Mexican companies in the past, recent regulatory updates have now made the state a viable option for organizations seeking to re-domicile or start a new captive.”
Vermont, along with the VCIA, hopes to conduct an in-person conference in Mexico sometime next year and will continue to reach out to international markets in Latin America and elsewhere with virtual education opportunities about the benefits of captives, generally, and Vermont as a domicile, specifically.
For more information on Vermont’s captive industry, visit www.vermontcaptive.com, call Brittany Nevins at 802-398-5192, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.