NRRA to Present Skip Myers With the 2019 Karen Cutts Achievement Award at this Year’s National Conference
Robert H. “Skip” Myers, Jr., has been involved with NRRA for three decades — and as our general counsel for the past 17 years. We hope to see you at the NRRA National Conference (October 2 to 4 in Chicago), so we can all thank him for his many contributions to the association and the RRG industry!
Robert H. ‘Skip’ Myers, Jr., General Counsel
of the National Risk Retention Association
By Lenny Giteck
For 17 years, Robert H. “Skip” Myers, Jr., has been general counsel of the National Risk Retention Association — meaning he has advised NRRA about all manner of insurance-related legal issues. In addition, he’s been a prolific, in-demand writer and speaker on the subject of insurance. He has received many accolades and awards during his long career as an attorney.
Now 71, Skip is managing partner of the law firm of Morris, Manning & Martin’s Washington, D.C. office. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Virginia Law School, his practice specializes in financial services, regulatory issues, and corporate issues. He represents a variety of insurance entities, trade associations, and other corporations.
At the 2019 NRRA National Conference — to be held October 2-4 in Chicago — Skip will be presented with the Karen Cutts Achievement Award, given annually to “an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the risk retention group and purchasing group liability insurance industry.”
A longtime significant player in the RRG industry, Karen Cutts was the founder of The Risk Retention Reporter and a figure much beloved by her professional colleagues. Tragically, she passed away from cancer in 2010.
We recently spoke with Skip about the RRG industry, his decades-long association with NRRA, and his receiving the Karen Cutts Achievement Award:
You became involved with NRRA — at least on an unofficial basis — in 1987, about a year after Congress passed the Liability Risk Retention Act (LRRA). How did that relationship come about?
Back in the day, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) was a client of mine. Ironically, in those days I was working for the states on the opposite side of the fence of people who wanted to put together risk retention groups.
One of the very early RRGs was the National Home Insurance Company, and I was also their legal counsel. They were quite involved with NRRA, and that was my introduction to the association.
It was at a time of crisis in the liability insurance industry. What do you remember about the crisis?
It took place because there wasn’t a lot of insurance available for liability insurers; as a result, insurance prices rose dramatically, and availability plummeted. That had a terrible impact on businesses, municipalities, healthcare providers, and so forth. They either couldn’t get insurance at all, or if they could get insurance it was not affordable.
The Liability Risk Retention Act was designed to streamline the provision of liability insurance. That was a significant problem: Insurance companies found it difficult to be licensed in multiple states, in part because there were so many different rules in so many different jurisdictions. It was very difficult to have a nationwide liability insurance program under those circumstances.
About two decades ago you became NRRA’s general counsel. How has that vantage point shaped your perception of the organization?
Something I find interesting is that even through NRRA is made up of a relatively small group of companies, the association and its members have taken on some very big cases in federal and state courts. It’s remarkable how far we’ve come in the courts, working on various issues related to RRGs. Of course, as NRRA’s general counsel, I’ve been involved with many of the cases over the years, either directly or as a “friend of the court.”
You’ve also played an important role in dealing with state regulators.
From 2006 to 2011, I represented NRRA at the NAIC. During that period there were quite a few working groups and task forces addressing RRG-related legal issues. We were fortunate to have friends among the regulators who were great at clarifying what LRRA meant.
One thing I’m very proud of is helping state regulators understand what their duties are under the federal law. Perhaps surprisingly, many regulators didn’t know there’s a federal law that supersedes their state regulations. They had to be educated on the subject.
How was it possible that state insurance regulators didn’t know about the federal law?
Other than with regards to healthcare, there are almost no insurance-related laws passed by Congress. Regulators tended to be familiar with federal laws in the healthcare area, but in the property/casualty realm they were not that up to date.
What is the biggest challenge facing the RRG industry today?
For the past decade or more, there’s been a relatively soft insurance market. In other words, there’s been a lot of available capital that has pushed insurance prices down. If companies can get regular insurance at a reasonable price, they don’t need captive insurance as much.
Do you see a light at the end of the tunnel?
The soft market can’t go on forever. At some point there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, RRGs keep going, although we’ve seen a few go under and others merge. Today there are very successful RRGs, and RRGs that are less so. But most will persevere. When the market gets harder, we’ll see the formation of more risk retention groups.
What about the issues surrounding regulations and regulators?
I don’t see those issues being as big a concern as they once were. In the 1990s, the regulatory issues were extremely important. Back then states didn’t like the LRRA and neither did the insurance industry. That’s turned around to an extent.
You’ll be receiving the Karen Cutts Achievement Award — the highest award NRRA gives — at the 2019 NRRA National Conference. Did you know her?
I knew Karen very well. She was a wonderful person, very friendly, very diligent in pursuing The Risk Retention Reporter, very even-handed in her approach to things. She was just a kind, generous person. She had a lot of friends in the industry, and I was fortunate enough to be one of them.
That must make receiving the award named after her even more meaningful to you.
Absolutely. When Karen passed away, it really was a loss to the industry in general, as well as to many people in the industry — myself included.