Some of the property/casualty insurance industry’s major industry groups are actively planning for face-to-face meetings again in 2021.
Don’t worry, virtual events are also part of the game plan.
To be sure, COVID-19 is still very much a globally disruptive force, despite the emergence of vaccines. But meetings planned by the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, InsureTech Connect and the Insurance Information Institute, among others, reflect cautious and measured returns to in-person gatherings, assuming vaccinations help defeat the pandemic before the event days arrive.
In-person meetings scheduled so far for later this year include virtual components test last year as the pandemic forced cancellation of industry meetings or forced many gatherings online. The idea is to give participants an option if they don’t feel comfortable venturing out yet, and also include a built-in fallback if COVID-19 remains a significant obstacle to meeting face-to-face.
Still, the desire to resume in-person gatherings is a strong one.
“Last year, among the things we learned, were not just the continued need for digitization and innovation in the insurance industry but that nothing can replicate the value of face-to-face in helping companies inform and advance their initiatives,” Jay Weintraub, ITC co-founder and CEO, told Carrier Management.
Person-to-Person Still Matters
Typically, ITC holds an annual conference in Las Vegas that attracts several thousand people from around the world. In 2020, the pandemic forced the group to move solely online with its ITC Global event from Oct. 19-21.
Weintraub acknowledged that meeting in person this fall isn’t 100 percent guaranteed at this point, but ITC has planned a conference in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay from Oct. 4-6, assuming conditions will normalize enough by then.
Weintraub said ITC Global worked well enough in 2020 that the group will continue an online component during its hoped-for fall gathering.
“We will be applying what we learned thanks to ITC Global by offering our first-ever Vegas@Home experience,” Weintraub said.
Adaptation, Even With Vaccines
The Insurance Information Institute typically holds its annual Joint Industry Forum in January in New York City – the first industry event of the year. For 2021, it is planning two Joint Industry Forums – one virtual on Jan. 28 and an in-person gathering in June in Washington, D.C.
Sean Kevelighan, the Insurance Information Institute’s CEO, said that his organization (now affiliated with The Institutes) sees a June in-person meeting for his organization as more likely than not at this point.
“All signs point to the resumption of in-person gatherings this year starting in the summer as millions become vaccinated against the coronavirus but we realize this is subject to change, depending upon the pandemic’s status,” Kevelighan said. “This why we are planning a “hybrid” [in person and virtual] event in June 2021 so participants can attend online.”
Kevelighan said that his organization, like everyone else, is simply trying to address COVID-19 uncertainties, which is why the virtual component will still be in play.
“We – much like the rest of the insurance industry – are adapting, and we will now hold a virtual event first, while also looking toward a hybrid – virtual and in-person event,” Kevelighan said.
He added that planning this way is also an opportunity to innovate with the Joint Industry Forum and find “ways to evolve the event and enhance its value.” Kevelighan said that Triple-I’s board has long held its June meeting in D.C. anyway, and making it a second Joint Industry Forum could expand the number of attendees.
Three In-Person Events for NAMIC
The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies is moving ahead with three in-person events in 2021, including a June 8-10 Claims Conference in Orlando, Fla., June 27-30 Management Conference and CEO Roundtables in White Sulphur Springs., W. Va., and its 126th Annual Convention from Sept. 19-22 in Nashville, Tenn.
All three events will also have virtual components.
Christa Hassett, NAMIC’s vice president of Event Operations, said the organization will keep close track of COVID-19 as part of conference planning. In other words, while the hope and expectation is that vaccines will enable in-person events later this year, organizers won’t be fully confident until closer to the conference days themselves.
Hassett said NAMIC is actively monitoring COVID-19 information from “the most authoritative and reliable sources” and will make even-related decisions based on their information and recommendations.
She also noted that the in-person events are designed to have virtual offerings and flexible cancellation policies in case of any need for COVID-19-related travel adjustments.