A surge in COVID-19 cases is forcing InsureTech Connect – one of the world’s largest insurance technology conferences – to go fully digital for its annual fall gathering.

ITC has scheduled ITC World Tour, a virtual world tour with various events, from Sept. 1 to Sept. 18. A main virtual conference event dubbed ITC Global will run from Sept. 21 to Sept. 23, designed to be a “24 Hours a Day Immersive Experience,” according to the group’s website. It will replace the annual in-person gathering in Las Vegas.

Jay Weintraub/Courtesy ITC

“If the world cannot come to Las Vegas, we will bring ITC to the world,” ITC CEO and co-founder Jay Weintraub told Carrier Management via email.

The annual event attracted 7,000 people from around the world at its 2019 annual conference in Las Vegas. But plans for a follow-up in-person event in fall 2020 quickly became in question when the coronavirus pandemic began to spread earlier this spring. In response, Weintraub and his team began to plan contingencies, including some sort of digital/in-person hybrid gathering that would still include some sort of in-person event in Las Vegas.

COVID-19 threw a wrench into that planning process, however, when cases began to surge in Las Vegas and in other locations around the country over the last month. COVID-19 cases in Clark County, Nevada, which includes metro Las Vegas, had flattened out before the region began reopening more than a month ago. They are now surging again in Nevada and other locations around the country, making travel difficult. Clark County reported 26,926 COVID-19 cases as of July 16, of which 6,077 were reported within the last 7 days. There have now been 2,383 hospitalizations and 507 deaths, according to state health information.

Weintraub said safety concerns drove the decision to go fully digital.

“The recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in the United States, as well as global and local government travel restrictions, has meant the conditions by which we would feel comfortable proceeding with an in-person event simply cannot be met,” Weintraub said. “And yet, innovation has not slowed during COVID-19 nor has the need to discover, learn and connect.”

With that in mind, ITC is now devoting its energies to producing virtual events in September that can match the impact its in-person annual conference has had.

Weintraub described the combined events as “September to Remember – a month long, all-digital celebration of insurance innovation.”

Weintraub said the ITC World Tour will include more than 30 virtual stops in three weeks in September, giving participants the opportunity to learn about new InsurTechs, hear from local experts and discover various local InsurTech clusters around the world. He said points of focus will include locations in Australia, Africa, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Israel, Indonesia, Japan and the United States.

ITC Global will cover the time frame that would have included the Las Vegas gathering, Weintraub said.

With an eye on attracting 8,000 people this year, ITC Global will last two and a half days for virtual networking and presentations/panels “from over 200 of the best and brightest thought leaders,” Weintraub said. He added the virtual event will include some global insurance industry leaders as well, with speakers such as Christian Mumenthaler, Group CEO of Swiss Re, Charles Lowrey, Chairman & CEO of Prudential, and Jessica Tan, Co-CEO of Ping An Group.