Category Archives: Industry Awards & Events

I.I.I. Joint Industry Forum Panel: The P/C Industry has been doing well, but threats loom on the horizon

Left to right: Bill Donnell, David Wessel, Jay Gelb, John Huff

By Lucian McMahon

The 2018 financial results for the property/casualty (P/C) industry were strong. According to Verisk Analytics, private P/C insurers in the U.S. reported a nine-month net underwriting gain of $4.7 billion. The industry combined ratio was 97.3 percent – down from 104.1 percent in 2017.

“It’s unusual to have an industry-wide underwriting profit,” said Jay Gelb, managing director at Barclay’s, speaking at a geopolitical risks panel at the 2019 I.I.I. Joint Industry Forum. “But 4Q 2018 is going to be worse.” The insured losses from Hurricane Michael and the disastrous California wildfires will make a dent on industry underwriting results. And in the last two years the total global industry catastrophe losses were about $230 billion, the highest level for any two-year period, Gelb noted.

While the industry did well in addressing these catastrophe losses, greater threats may be looming on the horizon for the P/C industry and the economy generally.

Panelist David Wessel, director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, listed a few.

In the short term, he expressed concern about the ongoing government shutdown. He also pointed out that, while incoming economic data are strong, the markets are expressing continuing pessimism, assuming higher weight on downside risk for 2019. In the long term, Wessel listed the continuing productivity growth slowdown and climate change as serious threats.

John Huff, president and CEO, Association of Bermuda Insurers & Reinsurers (ABIR), added the continuing challenges facing global insurance regulations, particularly in light of recent political events that seem to suggest a souring attitude towards global interconnectivity. Huff did express some optimism, however: “people want to stay at the table for international regulatory standards because business is global. They don’t want conflicting regulatory standards.”

Political uncertainty in the U.S. are also reasons for insurers to be concerned, per Huff. There has long been a push to “de-risk” government liabilities and move some of them into the private market, including the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), crop insurance, the Terrorism Risk and Insurance Act (TRIA), and earthquake insurance. How this will play out in the current political climate remains to be seen.

Gelb included flood and wildfire risks to the equation – both of which may increase in frequency and severity due to climate change.

Despite these possible threats, the panelists are keeping a mildly positive outlook for the future. “I think nothing is permanent, fortunately,” Wessel said regarding the current political and economic tensions.

If anything, this could be a time of opportunity for insurance leadership. Insurance has always led the way forward for economic growth. Said Wessel: “We’re in a moment when business leaders can be a more prominent voice to deal with tension […] The world is yearning for leadership.”

Federal Reserve’s Randal K. Quarles and the I.I.I.’s Sean Kevelighan talk resilience – financial and otherwise

 

By Lucian McMahon

“It’s a mistake to try and think of resilience from the point of view of trying to predict what can happen and then to respond to a predicted event, because you won’t know what’s going to happen,” said vice chairman for supervision and member of the Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System Randal K. Quarles at the Insurance Information Institute’s (I.I.I.) 2019 Joint Industry Forum. “The important thing is to ensure that you have measures in effect […] that promote resiliency no matter what might happen.”

Left to right: Sean Kevelighan and Randal Quarles

Resilience is more than prevention

In his conversation with the I.I.I. CEO Sean Kevelighan, Quarles stressed that financial stability depends on resilience, the ability to absorb system shocks no matter their source. “Wherever the shock might come from, it’s important that the institution or system is resilient to shock,” he said.

Cyberrisk is a perfect example. Quarles noted that a lot of the discussion around cyberrisks is about prevention. But he argued that prevention is only one part of cyberrisk resilience. “A key element to resilience is to assume that something will happen, and then determine how you have constructed a system that can stand back up, withstand, and respond to that shock.”

The U.S. economy appears to remain resilient during recent events

Quarles noted that the data on the real economy remains strong. Job creation continues. There’s been an uptick in the labor force participation. The economy is growing without unconstrained inflation.

But what about the recent stock market fluctuations and the ominous financial news coming out of Europe and Asia? “I think recently financial markets have been reacting to a few things,” Quarles said. “Mostly it’s doubt in the strength of continuing global growth. Some of the data that’s come out of China and Europe would suggest a little bit of less growth in the near term.”

Nonetheless, Quarles pointed out that markets might be more attuned to downside risks. He is confident that the core fundamentals of the economy remain strong. “The fundamental fact is that the financial sector is much more highly capitalized, has more liquidity, than it had before the crisis. Our assessment of risk to stability in the current environment is moderate.”

Quarles acknowledged that certain global events (particularly recent threats to trade openness) could impact the financial sector. The Fed, however, is alert to it. Quarles remains optimistic. “The hope is that a lot of these current events, current issues, will be way stations on the way to a more stable, more politically-supported open economy. It’s in everyone’s long term interest.”

In other words, the hope is that the economy is more resilient to shocks than it had been in the past.

Much Ado About AI at I.I.I. Joint Industry Forum

By Lucian McMahon

You’re familiar with the buzzwords by now. Internet of things. Blockchain. Artificial intelligence.

At the 2019 I.I.I. Joint Industry Forum, a panel on artificial intelligence and insurance cut through the buzz. How can AI be used to help build resilient communities? And how can the insurance industry leverage AI to better help customers address risk?

Pictured left to right: Andrew Robinson, Sean Ringsted, Ahmad Wani, Kyle Schmitt, James Roche

New products, more resilience

Regarding resilience, Ahmad Wani, CEO and co-founder of One Concern, said that AI is being used to harness vast troves of data to identify, on a “hyperlocal level,” the impact of a whole range of hazards. His company is already doing just that, partnering with local governments and insurance companies to better plan for future losses. “We don’t need to wait for disasters to happen to prioritize the response, we need to make changes and to act now before the disaster,” Wani said.

Sean Ringsted, executive vice president, chief digital officer and chief risk officer at the Chubb Group, also pointed out that insurers are already expanding their product offerings thanks to AI and big data. Contingent business interruption, for example: the sheer volume of data can now allow insurers to effectively analyze supply chain risks and price them accordingly.

Transparency and fairness are top of mind

But as Ringsted said, “it’s not all good news and roses.” What sorts of concerns should insurers and the public have about using AI?

Kyle Schmitt, managing direct of the global insurance practice at J.D. Power cited consumer concerns with the data and algorithms used for AI-enabled products. Consumers are deeply concerned with the security and privacy of any data they share with insurers. Per Schmitt, consumers also worry about the fairness of AI products, when algorithms instead of people are making decisions in an opaque way.

This is the so-called “black box problem” of AI, in which complex algorithms will arrive at answers or decisions without anyone being able to explain how they did so. Ringsted stressed that, for AI to be a viable tool, its mechanisms will need to be explainable to regulators and the public.

James Roche, vice president, personal lines product development at ISO, echoed this sentiment: social responsibility requires both robust data stewardship and strict control over AI outputs to ensure that outcomes are fair and within ethical standards.

From a consumer perspective, ensuring ethical use of AI is critical. Schmitt said that at the end of the day consumers are open-minded, “but they just want some ground rules.”

I.I.I. Joint Industry Forum: CEO Conversations


Pictured left to right: Sampson, McChrystal, Parrillo, Watkins

 

One of the most interesting parts of I.I.I.’s Joint Industry Forum conference was the CEO Conversations, a panel discussion moderated by David Sampson, President and CEO of American Property Casualty Insurance Association. The panelists were: Sandy Parrillo, President and CEO, Providence Mutual; Hank Watkins, President, Lloyd’s America and four-star General Stanley McChrystal who was also the event’s  keynote speaker.

The panel discussed some of the top challenges and opportunities facing the insurance industry today. It’s well known that insurers are concentrating on recruiting new talent, but Sandy Parrillo also pointed out the value of keeping “vintage workers” engaged and helping them adapt to different styles of work. Parrillo also spoke about the need to involve and get buy-in from all levels of employees when rolling out a new product.

Hank Watkins spoke about the insurance gap which poses a significant threat to global prosperity, especially in developing nations such as earthquake-prone Ecuador, as one of the top challenges to our industry. And on the positive side, Watkins gave Jumpstart Recovery’s earthquake coverage as an example of an innovative new product. Jumpstart is a surplus lines insurance broker using Lloyd’s capacity. It offers earthquake insurance in California with payment that’s triggered by an earthquake of a pre-specified intensity without the traditional claims handling process.

General McChrystal brought the conversation back to leadership. He recalled the characteristics of one of the most important leaders in his career – a tough commander who did not have much positive feedback to give when his subordinates did a good job. However, when McCrystal failed at a task, the commander surprised him by saying “I thought you did great!” Being given the freedom to fail means you can try different things and ultimately succeed.

I.I.I. Joint Industry Forum: Talent and leadership keynote


Gen. McChrystal delivers JIF keynote speech

Each year the I.I.I. hosts a conference called the Property/Casualty Joint Industry Forum. This unique event assembles key figures from the business, policymaking and media spheres to explore topics of vital interest to our industry.

This year we were fortunate to have four-star General Stanley McChrystal as keynote speaker. General McChrystal was the commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and International Security Assistance Force.  He shared crucial lessons on leadership which he acquired while leading the effort against Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Al Qaeda used smartphones and the internet to coordinate attacks; they were “lightning fast and constantly changing.” The elite JSOC was daunted by the terror group; “we were losing” said McChrystal. In order to beat Al Qaeda some of the old rules had to be thrown out, and radical new leadership techniques had to take root. Here are some of the lessons corporate leaders can take away:

  • Violate the chain of command. Giving everyone in your organization the information you normally only give the C-suite leads to “empowered execution”. In our fast-paced world there is not always time to let everything trickle down a long chain of command.
  • Give employees the freedom to use their own judgement. “Execute the order, but if the order is wrong, execute the order we should have given you.” Don’t allow “just following procedure” to be an excuse for actions that are wildly inappropriate for the situation.
  • Think of the role of leader as akin to that of a gardener. A gardener does not grow plants, only plants can do that. Instead, a gardener feeds, weeds and protects the plants thereby allowing them to do what they do best. By enabling the organization you will be sure to see a positive outcome, concluded McChrystal.

WCRI Annual Issues and Research Conference

The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) is holding its 35th Annual Issues and Research Conference on February 28th at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown in Phoenix, AZ. Anyone working to improve workers’ compensation systems or seeking to manage a changing environment would benefit from attending.

Some of the highlights from the conference agenda include:

  • A keynote address by world-renowned economist Alan Krueger on the future of work, the impact of technology on the economy, and how the opioid epidemic has affected the labor force participation rate
  • The latest research on opioid prescribing to injured workers
  • A panel discussion of Washington State’s community-based program that brings together medical providers, employers, and injured workers to help ensure timely, effective, and coordinated services
  • The challenges and opportunities of telemedicine
  • A discussion of some of the latest findings and trends seen across WCRI’s core benchmark studies, including WCRI’s 18-State CompScope™ Benchmarks reports, a multistate benchmarking program that measures the performance of a growing number of state workers’ compensation systems

Past attendees have said that the WCRI’s is the one conference that offers an “independent point of view that covers the entire spectrum of works compensation” and that it is “a great place to learn and a great place to network.”

Click here to learn more about the conference agenda or to register.

 

The Insurance Information Institute’s 37th Annual Property/Casualty Joint Industry Forum

Next Thursday (1/17) the I.I.I. will be proud to host the 37th Annual Property/Casualty Joint Industry Forum, an annual gathering of insurers, reinsurers and other industry leaders.

The event allows top executives in the insurance industry to network, exchange vital knowledge, and discuss emerging trends that will impact the future of the industry.

With this year’s theme of ‘Leading the Way Forward,’ insurance leaders will provide helpful insight on how the industry is paving the way into the future.

JIF 2019’s formal agenda will feature panel discussions, keynote addresses and the first-ever JIF Town Hall addressing flood and catastrophe resilience.

We will be hosting retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu as speakers to discuss their personal experiences with adversity and resilience. Additionally, Randal Quarles, a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, will join Sean Kevelighan, CEO of the I.I.I., to discuss current issues of the day.

Panel discussions will cover a wide array of insurance topics, including:

  • Economic Impact – How a charged political environment will affect regulatory environments, international alliances and trade partnerships, and the likely ramifications of heightened political risk for insurers and reinsurers.
  • Artificial Intelligence’s Risks, Ethics, and Opportunities – The benefits, drawbacks and ethical concerns as insurance seeks to manage risk in what some are calling the “Fifth Industrial Revolution.”
  • Talent and Leadership – McChrystal will share candid observations on innovative leadership and insights he gained while developing and implementing successful strategies including the creation of a comprehensive counterterrorism organization that has revolutionized the way military agencies interact and collaborate.
  • Resilience Town Hall – In this inaugural JIF Town Hall session, experts share perspectives on national and regional efforts to build community resilience in disaster-prone areas.

 

 EVENT DETAILS:

WHEN:

Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET

  • Registration: 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. ET
  • Forum: 10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. ET
  • Reception: 5:30 pm – 7:00 p.m. ET

 

WHERE:

Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square, 9th Floor, New York City, NY

Media room will be in the “Jolson Room” on the 9th floor

 

For more information visit https://iii.swoogo.com/2019jif/registration. Registration is open to executives at P/C and life insurance companies, reinsurance companies, intermediaries and other related service organizations, including: CEOs; presidents; public and government affairs executives; insurance trade association leaders; regulators; and state and federal government representatives. Interviews with I.I.I. spokespeople and panelists are available upon request.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annual Workers Comp Conference Beckons

Next week Jim Lynch will be in Boston for the annual conference of an I.I.I. subscriber, the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI). Here’s  his preview:

WCRI is known for its painstakingly objective analyses of workers comp trends in more than a dozen large states. Lately mainstream media have noticed WCRI, particularly this New York Times article, in which researchers found that when the prices of common dosages for back pain were capped, California doctors switched to dosages whose prices were not capped. This allowed them to charge about five times more per pill.

Physicians tend to charge considerably more than pharmacies when they dispense drugs, a phenomenon WCRI studies regularly. The costs and consequences of physician prescriptions is one of the main topics of the first morning of next week’s conference. (Registration and other details here.)

Day Two will feature a topic in which I’ve become more interested in recent weeks — the ability to opt out of the workers comp environment entirely.

For about a century workers comp has been a pact that has bound employers to employees in liability law. Workers give up their right to sue if they are injured on the job. Employers agree to pay for all injuries at work, regardless of how they occurred.

For decades Texas was the only state that didn’t follow these rules. Employers could opt out of the system, but they lost the considerable common law defenses employers usually enjoy. Workers’ Comp Insider has a nice overview of the Texas system.

In 2014 Oklahoma became the second opt-out state. Tennessee lawmakers have proposed their state become the third, even as Oklahoma’s law faces a constitutional challenge, as Business Insurance reports.

At the WCRI conference opt-out will get a hearing. A representative from retailer Nordstrom, which supports opt-out measures, will discuss the matter with an AFL-CIO representative and one from PartnerSource, a company that helps successfully opt-out.

Follow my live-tweeting of the conference @III_Research and check back for another blog post.

Update: Aw, shucks. I learned early Thursday that the opt-out session at the WCRI conference has been canceled. I’ll still be going to the conference.

I.I.I. offers facts and statistics on workers compensation.

Insurance Industry Gives Back

I.I.I.’s new California representative Janet Ruiz brings us this timely report  from the  insurance industry’s first  philanthropic roundtable of the new year:

The first of three 2015 insurance industry philanthropic roundtables was held earlier this week in Woodland Hills, CA at Farmers Insurance to discuss the landscape of philanthropy with the theme of disaster resilience.

Speakers at the meeting presented case studies of successes such as the partnership of Farmers Insurance with the Saint Bernard Project to rebuild Joplin, Missouri. The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) discussed the role of catastrophe communications in getting important information out to media and consumers before, during, and after a catastrophe. Team Rubicon talked about their mission to bridge the gap for veterans and how they engage veterans, first responders and volunteers in rebuilding communities after a disaster.

The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) leads the philanthropic roundtables attended by member insurance companies involved in philanthropy and community giving. It was born out of the passion of insurance professionals to make a positive community impact.

The IICF Early Literacy Initiative and Sesame Workshop Partnership recently launched — ‘Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day’ — working to provide every American child the opportunity to read and write. As Melissa Duncan, IICF Western Division says: “Early education makes true social progress.”

Bill Ross, CEO, IICF wrapped up the roundtable by reminding all of the impact the insurance industry has giving $1 billion annually in direct giving and sponsorships to charity.

It was a powerful session!

You can read more  on the insurance industry’s contribution to community and charitable causes here.

Impact of ACA Like Hurricane, Says WCRI Exec Victor

I.I.I. chief actuary James Lynch reports from Day  2 of the WCRI annual conference in Boston:

Health insurance and workers compensation are sort of kissin’ cousins, in that changes that affect one inevitably affect the other.

But that’s my metaphor. Dr. Richard Victor, executive director of the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), likens the impact of health care reform to a hurricane.

Like a storm whose path is not quite defined, health care reform could take a significant toll – but we don’t know precisely where. Since workers comp differs from state to state, the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will differ from state to state. Like a good weatherman, Dr. Victor told an audience of about 400 at WCRI’s annual conference in Boston on Thursday he could make some educated guesses what might happen.

He is assuming the ACA is enacted exactly as written – a tough assumption but as good a starting point as any. In that case, the increase in insured Americans will increase demand.

The marketplace might decrease the use of doctors, relying instead on well-trained nurses or even sophisticated computers to help provide care.

Or doctors might raise prices in the face of rising demand.

What actually happens will differ by state. Some states make it difficult to take diagnosis and treatment out of the doctors’ hands. In those states, medical costs – and their kissin’ cousin, comp costs — are likely to rise. Elsewhere, the effect will be muted.

Other insights:

â–  Health care reform will result in a healthier work population. This will tend to help the comp system, because healthy workers are less likely to get hurt on the job, and if they do get hurt, they get well faster.

â–  Changes in billing, Dr. Victor said, will “absolutely† lead to upcoding – in which a doctor exaggerates the severity of a treatment to receive a bigger reimbursement. The practice is well-documented in workers comp, he said, citing examples from Florida and California.

â–  Changes are likely to shift into workers compensation. That’s because many employers are increasing deductibles that employees pay for treatment. Workers comp, meanwhile, has no deductibles and no co-pays – giving an employee the incentive to label an injury as work-related.

I blogged about Day  1 of the conference here. Other highlights from Day 2:

â–  Alex Swedlow, president of the California Workers Compensation Institute (CWCI) noted that even after all appeals are exhausted only about five percent of denials of comp claims are overturned. Swedlow also said evidence-based pain management guidelines effectively control costs; and a comparison of California and Washington pharmaceutical costs show that more cost savings are possible.

â–  Harry Shuford, chief economist of the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), argued that underwriting cycles are closely linked to bond yields and that when it comes to managing their business, insurers in the long run “do a much better job than other financial intermediaries† like banks.