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Mini-cast 142: NCEO Launches Captive Insurance Program

Bret Keisling is joined by Loren Rodgers at the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) and Chad Duke and Pim Jager at Scott Insurance who discuss NCEO’s OWN Health and OWN Risk, two new captive insurance programs that are only available to employee-owned companies.


Mini-cast 142 Transcript

Bret Keisling: [00:00:09] Welcome to the ESOP Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Bret Keisling and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. The National Center for Employee Ownership has so many new programs, initiatives, and collaborations that I truly get inspired by how much they do.

[00:00:31] The NCEO, in collaboration with Scott Insurance, has launched two new captive insurance programs, OWN Health and OWN Risk. Today I'm joined by Loren Rodgers of NCEO, Chad Duke and Pim Jager of Scott Insurance , who will give us an overview of the programs being offered. On Wednesday, July 14th, 2021, the NCEO and Scott Insurance are offering an informational webinar that will share information about the OWN Health program. You can find information about the program at and we'll also include information in the show notes on our website.

[00:01:14] This coming Tuesday on Episode 158 of our primary EO/ESOP podcast, we'll have a longer full conversation with Loren, Chad, and Pim. You'll hear more about Scott Insurance, which was formed in the 1800s and has been an ESOP since 1974. Chad and Pim will share their EO "A-ha Moments" and Loren Rodgers will touch on a number of subjects, including EO collaboration and making what I call the EO sandbox bigger, stronger, and more resilient.

[00:01:44] With that. I'll introduce today's guests.


Bret Keisling: [00:01:48] My friends, we have an excellent, important episode that is important enough to have not one guests, not two guests, but three guests, and I'll introduce them. Loren Rogers, executive director of NCEO. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast your very first time.

Loren Rodgers: [00:02:04] Thank you so much, Bret. It is a pleasure to be here with you.

Bret Keisling: [00:02:08] We are delighted, and we're going to talk more in just a moment. Chad Duke, you are vice president of Scott Insurance. Thank you for coming on the podcast.

Chad Duke: [00:02:16] Thank you for having me, excited to be here.

Bret Keisling: [00:02:18] And Pim Jager, you are also a vice-president at Scott Insurance and a captive practice leader as well and we are going to talk about an exciting new insurance program. Loren Rogers, would you tell us why we're here?

Loren Rodgers: [00:02:34] Absolutely. And so Bret, you see this field more than most people out there. You've got your finger on the pulse, but one thing we may have snuck past you during the pandemic is that we actually changed our mission statement last year. Now our mission statement is to make employee ownership thrive, which is a bit broader than what we used to do. We still focus on providing objective, reliable information to help companies make the most of employee ownership, but we're also trying to do creative, new things that kind of directly help out member companies and other employee-owned businesses.

So that means doing some hands-on things. We've got more hands-on kind of workshop type events at our conferences. We've got more sample documents that people can just grab and use whenever they need something, RFPs, things like that. We've got an upcoming piece I'd love to talk to you about another time Bret on helping companies get independent directors.

But one of the best examples of that, I think is this idea of having a captive insurance program. We're really excited about this because one thing I think you and I agree about, Bret, is that employee-owned companies are simply different. They're better. They're better actors. And I think that if one way to make that a real advantage, in a specific concrete way, is to have employee-owned companies get together, pool their risk, share best practices about how to manage different insurance aspects of their insurance coverage.

And one really smart way to do that is captive insurance. As soon as we started getting educated about this ourselves from the other guests you've got on this program from Scott Insurance, the more we learn, the more excited we were about this idea. It's a way to help our member companies, but it also, the more we learn the better there is -- there's potential for research and there's potential to build community. I think that's a phrase that you've often used in your podcasts, Bret.

And what we're seeing is that employee ownership, isn't just a community. It's a whole series of interlocking communities. And we think gathering companies together in a captive insurance group is a great way to set one more, really diverse, rich, mutually supportive community in this great field of employee ownership.

Bret Keisling: [00:04:44] Loren, I absolutely love that. Chad Scott and Pim Jager from Scott Insurance, let us start off with something that I think is as important to me as anything else. Scott Insurance is an employee-owned company itself, right Chad?

Chad Duke: [00:04:58] Yeah, Bret, that's right. Scott Insurance, we're headquartered in Lynchburg, Virginia, and have nine offices across the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern part of the United States, but we've been a hundred percent employee-owned since 1975. So we're one of the oldest ESOPs in the country and we really lean heavily on who we are as an employee-owned company. And we just have a fantastic culture and community across our nine offices and we're pressing towards 400 employee owners and we'll probably get there in 2022. But just, it's a great place to work. And it's somewhere that Pim and I care deeply about and have both been here for over a decade now. And so it's just a great organization to work with.

We're also really excited about the opportunity that Loren has given us at the NCEO to partner with them, to help us get this captive idea kicked off and off the ground and off and running here in 2021.

Bret Keisling: [00:05:46] That is excellent. And there are two aspects of the insurance program and we'll have Pim in just a moment chat about the health aspect, but you, Chad, are responsible for the OWN Risk program, which is property and casualty. Am I right?

Chad Duke: [00:06:01] That's right. Yeah. And so Loren did a good job of just providing a good overview of what a captive is. At the end of the day, it's an insurance program where a group of companies come together to pool their risk and essentially help create an insurance company that they're in business together. And one of the things that we know about ESOPs is that they train better. They retain better. They communicate better. They retain their employees for a longer period of time. And at the end of the day, those characteristics typically lead to better performance, both on the healthcare side with your health benefits program, but also on the property and casualty side. And when we talk about the OWN Risk captive, we're talking about putting together a captive with a group of employee-owned companies, only ESOPs and sharing in the risk of workers' comp, auto, and general liability. And so right now we're just building up critical mass and trying to bring as many midsize and larger employee-owned companies together to create this OWN Risk captive that's really based on the common theme of employee ownership.

Bret Keisling: [00:07:00] So Chad, let me simplify this to see if I've got it right for our listeners. We all know that if we have a HMO, and my language might be a little bit wrong, or an account that we manage ourselves, we tend to be a little more careful with the care that we get. It's not that we deprive ourselves of care, but we don't necessarily hit the doctor the first opportunity and therefore costs come down.

Is that the advantage of a captive, where you have entire companies trying to manage the risk. And again, not deny coverage, but be smart about coverage. Am I saying that right?

Chad Duke: [00:07:32] Yeah, absolutely. And for us, we want to just together best of breed ESOP companies that are all focused on what we refer to as risk performance at Scott Insurance, right? They're all focused on safety. They're focused on culture and they're holding each other accountable while at the same time sharing best practices to help each other improve. And if we can do that, then ultimately the money they pay into their captive is money that's going to be retained and returned to them in time.

Bret Keisling: [00:07:58] Excellent. And so if you are working on the P&C [Property and Casualty] the OWN Risk program, that is informally, I'm going to say, covers the stuff. And Pim's plan, the OWN Health, covers the people. So if I'm saying that right, Pim tell us a little bit about yourself and OWN Health.

Pim Jager: [00:08:18] Yeah, thanks. We're really excited about OWN Health because we know that one of the leading indicators of performance for an organization from a health insurance cost perspective is really about two things. It's about the health and wellbeing of that population. How much health insurance or how many health services the members require, right? And then the other piece is what are we paying for kind of the administrative expenses surrounding having to run a health plan? And the thing that is exciting about a health insurance captive is it really allows midsize companies to come together to collaborate and aggregate so that they address both of those issues that they can use their aggregate size to bring down the cost of administering their health insurance plans and the cost of acquiring services from third parties to help them manage costs.

And then two, that it creates essentially a group invested in each other in the best practices of how do we keep our employees healthy and how do we help our employees that have health challenges live better, healthier lives over the long term. And so that really is the tenets of it. Sometimes, captive when we say the word captive and we start talking about insurance, it starts to sound very complicated, but at the core of it, it's really not all that complicated.

It's about building a community that helps each other serves each other. And as we like to say, puts the "we" before the "me" in regards to people's health.

Bret Keisling: [00:10:01] Is there a size of company that's a good fit to participate in the captive? Can you tell us about size? Who does it make sense for, et cetera?

Chad Duke: [00:10:08] Yeah, certainly, and that's a great question, Bret, and for us on the OWN Risk side, we're looking for high performing ESOP companies that typically are paying in excess of $200,000 for their workers' comp, GL [general liability], and auto. And for some employee-owned companies that are going down the path of exploring the captive, they may have enough risk in just their workers comp exposure to qualify for the captive and it may be a great opportunity. And for others, it's a combination of those three lines of coverage.

And so it doesn't have to be an all or nothing. So that's just one thing I wanted to add, but I know Pim, you need to just address kind of the, what size groups are best on the OWN Health side.

Pim Jager: [00:10:50] Yeah, thanks for that, Chad. And it is, the markers are a little different on the health insurance side. Generally on the health insurance side, what we focus on is the number of employees that are covered by the organization's health plan. And generally what we would say is that the floor, or the minimum size, is going to be at 50 employees on the health plan and then really move upwards to 5, 6, 700 employees on the plan.

Most people will tell you that self-insurance, right, is the most efficient way to manage a healthcare program and its expenses. And so most large employers are already, self-insured. A captive is really just a way for smaller, more midsize companies to self-insure without the risk and volatility that comes along with doing it themselves. And so that's really where and why there is that sweet spot of 50 to 5-, 600 employees comes in.

Those are the groups that kind of fit into that model of, hey, we want the benefits of self-insurance, but we're not quite sure that we want to go it alone. And the captive kind of provides that security of being in a pool and sharing risk with others. That has been something that has been, been so well received by the market.

Bret Keisling: [00:12:02] If they're already in a captive is it possible to replace captives with this? Can you just talk a little bit about...

Pim Jager: [00:12:07] Yeah, I'd be glad to, and I think there's actually a different answer, probably, depending upon the type of risk that you're talking about, just in regards to, if groups are currently already participating in a captive program. On the health insurance side, if groups are participating already in a captive program the opportunity would be for them to leave, potentially, a program where they are sharing risk with other companies but that may, that are, many of which are not employee-owned and so may not have the same, really, vigilance about health, wellness, taking care of their employees, retention, and performance that are markers of ESOP companies. And so they may not be getting the full benefit of being in a captive structure, because they're just participating with a larger general audience, let's call it.

So the opportunity, from a health insurance perspective, is for those groups to still have the benefits of a captive structure as far as risk share and insulation from volatility, but to have improved performance, because you are now moving yourself into a pool with all high performers that share the common values that employee-owned companies share.

And so that is certainly an opportunity. And we are in conversations with several current ESOP companies that are in other captives that love the idea of being, right, in a program just with other employee-owned companies.

The other reason why that would make sense is because the captive really does focus on collaboration and best practices. And the idea of collaboration with other ESOP companies on these topics of health and wellness, retention, mental health is for example, is a huge discussion point these days. How are we addressing that as an employee-owned company? That feels better to have that conversation when you're in a room with other ESOPs than with just, as I described it, the general population. So real good opportunity there for those companies.

The other thing I'll say is that while we have had a lot of conversations with ESOP companies that are not in captives, a lot of them are coming to the conversation with a statement that says, "Hey, Pim, we've looked at captives in the past. We just couldn't get comfortable with this idea of sharing risk with people that we didn't know, and that we didn't know very much about. And now that you're bringing to the table, this idea of, hey, we can be in a captive with other ESOP companies, many of which we know from our association participation, from other best practice groups that we do, that feels good to us. And we're excited to explore that as an opportunity."

So, that's how I would summarize the opportunity around the health side and where people have generally been in that journey. It's slightly different for Chad and I'll let him maybe speak to that.

Chad Duke: [00:15:03] For us, Pim really hit the nail on the head there with just the common theme of companies saying, we've explored or heard of captives, but just couldn't get comfortable with who we're doing business with and on the P&C side, captives have been around for a long time. I would tell you that from a property and casualty captive perspective, it is a very long-term risk management strategy. So there are some ESOP companies and I have many ESOP clients that are already in group captives. And once you are in an established group captive, it's a long-term strategy and most of those companies are going to remain in those captives.

And so that's why we spend a lot of time on captive education on helping them through feasibility and due diligence to say, is this the right fit for your organization? And for many ESOPs they go, man, this feels good. Let's keep going down that path. And then for some they say, maybe we're not the right size or our risk profile isn't a good fit. But for many, it's just a commitment to say, do I want to join with my peers from an employee ownership standpoint and make this a long-term risk management strategy where I can really utilize the tangible asset that is an ESOP to help my insurance program really become a profit center and have those premium dollars returned to us in the form of a dividend, which doesn't do anything but help grow our ESOP.

And that's one of the things that when we present on webinars and in person, there's so many times we see CFOs, CEOs, ownership of employee-owned companies, and they go, man, this just makes so much sense. Part of that is it's a long-term strategy, but it's a solution that people are really excited about.


Bret Keisling: [00:16:36] My thanks to Loren Rodgers, Chad Scott, and Pim Jager. I hope you'll join us this Tuesday on our primary EO/ESOP Podcast for the full conversation. And if that isn't exciting enough, on Tuesday, I'll share a discount code that will save you $25 off your registration fee for the NCEO's Fall Forum to be held this September [2021] in San Diego, California and online.

Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.

Bitsy McCann: [00:17:04] We'd love to hear from you! To contact us, find us on Facebook at KEISOP, LLC and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. To reach Bret, with one "T", email, on LinkedIn at Bret Keisling, and most actively on Twitter at @EO_Bret. Again, that's one "T". This podcast has been produced by The KEISOP Group, technical assistance provided by Third Circle, Inc. and BitsyPlus Design. Original music composed by Max Keisling, archival podcast material edited and produced by Brian Keisling, and I'm Bitsy McCann.

Standard Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field and the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement, but if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.

A note on the transcript: This transcript was produced by Descript, an automated transcription service. While it has been reviewed by The ESOP Podcast, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.

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