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CICA President Dan Towle Embraces "The Challenge of Change"

Dan Towle CICA 300x600
February 23, 2018

The mission of the Captive Insurance Companies Association (CICA) is to be the premier global domicile-neutral captive insurance association and to be the best source of unbiased information, knowledge, and leadership for captive insurance decision-makers. As part of this undertaking, CICA hosts an annual international conference. This year's conference is set to take place on March 11–13 in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa. recently touched base with CICA President Dan Towle to discuss the upcoming conference.

You recently took over as CICA president at the end of June, coming from 17 years at the state of Vermont as the chief marketing and business development professional for the state's captive insurance industry. How does your prior work with Vermont inform your approach at CICA, and how has this impacted CICA's approach to this year's conference?

In my previous role, I developed many relationships across the captive industry. These relationships gave me strong building blocks for my work here at CICA, and the ideas I gathered while volunteering for numerous other associations and conferences have helped me bring new ideas and fresh perspectives to CICA and our conference planning.

CICA Board Chair Sarah Pacini, JD, CEO of Cooperative of American Physicians, Inc., Mutual Protection Trust and CEO of Cooperative of American Physicians Insurance Company, Inc., was recently quoted in the news as saying, "Dan's energy and ideas are helping CICA to take a leading role on many key issues across the industry." Tell us more about how CICA intends to expand its role across the industry.

Being domicile neutral means we have a very holistic view of the industry, which gives us a larger potential audience than simply being aligned with a single jurisdiction. It also arguably gives us the most unbiased voice in the industry. Our members want us to be more visible and active in the industry. We plan to be more vocal in areas that are important to CICA and communicate with our membership with more frequency and in more ways than ever. You have likely noticed how active CICA has become on LinkedIn and in social media.

We are also taking a leadership role in promoting the dynamic nature of the captive industry and the career opportunities it provides. We are partnering with educational resources like Butler University as a way we can both learn from each other. Our industry needs to do a better job in both attracting and developing the next generation of captive leaders. I believe that is a role that CICA can play an important part. Earlier this year, we announced our mentorship program as one such way to help develop our industry.

This year's conference theme is "The Challenge of Change." What does CICA perceive to be the  external disruptions and challenges for captives and captive practitioners?

We are seeing more simultaneous change than ever before, and this is by no means a new development. Being able to operate and succeed in a constantly changing marketplace is the challenge that captives and risk management professionals will need to navigate. By bringing together some of the most creative and innovative captive leaders and service providers in the world, CICA can help the captive industry address the challenges of this continuous change. Captive insurers have to be nimble in identifying opportunities to harness those changes and turn them into positive advancements and to be able to best finance the cost of risk for their entities.

Further to the previous question, how will the conference provide insights for captives and captive practitioners who are looking to address today's external disruptions and challenges?

I am excited about so many of our sessions this year. We received a record number of session submissions, more than twice as many as previous years, and our conference program committee did a great job of selecting a terrific group of sessions.

We have sessions designed to help captives and risk managers address external changes such as cyber risk and new technologies. Joe Deems of the National Risk Retention Association is going to lead a session focused on insuring cutting-edge technologies. We also have sessions on new programs such as how captive insurance programs are significantly contributing to healthcare cost containment, and we have an interesting session on the cannabis industry.

We also have a tax session titled "What's New on the Tax Front" that features tax experts Tom Jones, Bruce Wright, Dan Kusaila, and Rick Irvine. This is always one of our most popular sessions.

We also have a number of sessions geared toward engaging young professionals. We have a session that will be put on by Butler University students and their professor on "Using Captives and Experiential Learning To Recruit and Train Millennials," and we have another panel session that includes a student and a professor from Temple University titled "Fueling the Quality and Quantity of the Next Generation of Captive Leaders."

The conference will offer a new professional development track to provide training on the skills that captive and risk management professionals need to successfully engage human resources, finance, risk management, and executives in developing strategies for optimal uses of captive insurance companies. Tell us more about the genesis and scope of this track of sessions.

We know that our members and their companies need to have the skills and insights to be successful in their roles. Broadening CICA's focus to include professional development seemed like a good fit. The Professional Development Track is focused on skills captive and risk management professionals need to successfully engage human resources, finance, risk management, and executives in developing strategies for optimal uses of captive insurance companies. Sessions on how to sell your captive to your internal constituency, how to attract and retain a younger workforce, and a session on "What Prospective Captive Owners Need To Know" all look to be very popular sessions.

CICA advocates for its members around the world as a key into the captive industry while acting as a resource for captive best practices. In what ways does the CICA Conference set itself apart from other industry conferences in trying to achieve this goal?

Part of what makes the CICA Conference unique is that by being domicile neutral, we attract and bring together a very diverse group of attendees. Where else would you see so many different domiciles represented in one exhibit hall? Being domicile neutral also creates a more relaxed atmosphere where there are many informal networking sessions where people collaborate and share challenges and solutions that they face.

What advice do you have for captive owner, risk manager, and insurance professional conference attendees who are new to the captive insurance industry?

First, be sure to join us for the first-time attendee breakfast Monday morning where you can network with CICA leaders and others who may have many of the same questions you do about setting up a captive or getting started in the captive industry.

I would also encourage newcomers to the industry to attend the "What Prospective Captive Owners Need To Know" session on Monday afternoon. Lance Ewing and Jason Flaxbeard will provide the inside scoop on how you can review and evaluate domiciles, service providers, and how to pitch your ideas to your senior management and more.

Also, be sure to spend some time in the exhibit hall where you can network with representatives from 20 or more domiciles and some of the top captive experts.

Most of all, meet your fellow attendees who, like you, are attending the CICA Conference to network and to learn from our many educational sessions. You will find out that the captive industry is a very receptive and supportive group to newcomers, and you will quickly feel welcome.

Mr. Towle became CICA president on April 24, 2017, and succeeded Dennis Harwick, who retired June 30, 2017.

Mr. Towle is one of the captive insurance industry's best-known captive insurance professionals. From 1999 through April of 2017, he served as the director of Financial Services for the state of Vermont and was the chief marketing and business development professional for the state of Vermont's captive insurance industry. Mr. Towle is a frequent presenter at national conferences and events throughout the country and is visible in international media as an authority on captive insurance.

He has published numerous articles in trade publications and served on the advisory board for the World Captive Forum, chaired the Risk and Insurance Management Society Exhibitor Advisory Committee, and was active in various capacities with the Vermont Captive Insurance Association.

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