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Entrepreneurial Insurance Symposium, Day 2: What you missed

The 10th annual Entrepreneurial Insurance Symposium was held Sept. 7-8 in Dallas.
The 10th annual Entrepreneurial Insurance Symposium was held Sept. 7-8 in Dallas.

Thursday, Sept. 8, saw insurance professionals from across the country gather in Dallas for the second day of the 10th annual Entrepreneurial Insurance Symposium 2016.

They were eager to hear more from insurance industry leaders about the ways the industry is changing, and has to change, to continue to thrive and remain relevant to future insurance buyers. Most important, attendees were looking forward to hearing more about what those leaders have done right, what they’ve done wrong and what they would do differently — or not.

Attendees also had the opportunity to hear from six entrepreneurs in a competition modeled after the ABC television show, “Shark Tank,” and vote on which one they thought was best. It will be interesting to see how well the audience agreed with the judges, whose decision has not been finalized. In addition, networking opportunities were available to learn from each other what vendors, agents, brokers and claims professionals, among others, are doing right now in their own offices.

Here are some highlights from the second day of the conference:

Dr William T Hold and Kathleen Zortman

William T. Hold, president and co-founder of the National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research, and Kathleen Zortman, president of Property & Casualty for QBE North America. (Photo: Eileen Blumenthal)

William T. Hold, president and co-founder of the National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research, greeted the audience with an overview of the first day of the conference for those who weren’t able to attend, and a preview of the second day.

Hold also introduced Kathleen Zortman, president of Property & Casualty for QBE North America. Zortman, whose experience includes a stint as president of Professional Risk Solutions LLC and a consultant with Deloitte Consulting, spoke about “Leading for Transformational Change,” touching on her experience in the strategic repositioning and sale of Personal Lines Insurance, a subsidiary of Chubb and Son.

Rod Fox Entrepreneurial Insurance Symposium 2016

TigerRisk Partners CEO and Managing Partner Rod Fox. (Photo: Eileen Blumenthal)

Rod Fox, CEO and managing partner of TigerRisk Partners, in his presentation titled “Where Are We (Going)?” reviewed the insurance industry’s financial picture, noting that capital will continue to flow, but investment returns continue to lag. Distribution compression as well as relationships continue to evolve, he observed, driven in large part by technology and the internet. He concluded by noting that “Value is key and skills in bringing risk to capital will be a winning formula.”

Richard "Gordy" Bunch

Richard “Gordy” Bunch, CEO and president of the Woodlands Financial Group (Photo: Eileen Blumenthal)

Gordy Bunch, CEO and president of the Woodlands Financial Group, started his presentation, “The Future of Insurance Distribution,” by acknowledging the military veterans in attendance and got the audience to its feet as he led them in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Bunch acknowledged that he found a job in insurance after a four-year stint in the U.S. Coast Guard by accident, but it turned out to be the best thing that happened to him.

“Go where your clients are,” Bunch advised the audience. “You have to work around what they need and be where they want you when they want you. It may mean using video conferencing, having them come to your office at odd hours, or visiting them at home.”

Panel on Internet of Things Entrepreneurial Insurance Symposium 2016

Robert Bauer (from left), managing director of commercial strategy and innovation at American International Group; Steve Pretre, founder of Metromile; Todd Henderson, law professor at the University of Chicago; Trey Bowles, CEO and founder of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center; and Jonathan Dotan, chief strategy officer for Otoy Inc. (Photo: Eileen Blumenthal)

Robert Bauer, managing director of commercial strategy and innovation for American International Group, moderated a panel on “The Internet of Things: Evolution or Revolution.” Jonathan Dotan, chief strategy officer for Otoy Inc., a graphics company, discussed using technology such as virtual reality and augmented reality to produce better modeling tools. “The brain has the ability to absorb data visually much better than by analyzing a spreadsheet,” he said.

Trey Bowles, CEO and founder of the nonprofit Dallas Entrepreneur Center, explained how the center works in bringing together entrepreneurs and mentors. He noted that technology outpaces content, policy and regulation.

Steve Pretre, founder of Metromile, a San Francisco-based car insurance startup that offers pay-per-mile insurance and a driving app, observed that a major challenge for start-ups is that of dealing with insurance regulation across 50 states while technology has no borders.

Todd Henderson, a law professor at the University of Chicago and an engineer by training, reminded the entrepreneurs in the audience that they need product liability insurance as they develop new products, especially when they are part of a longer supply chain.

Related: Disruption in the insurance industry: Displacement or innovation?

Richard Kerr and Evan Hecht

Richard Kerr, founder, chairman and CEO of MarketScout, and Evan Hecht, founder and CEO of the Flood Insurance Agency (Photo: Eileen Blumenthal)

Evan Hecht, founder and CEO of Flood Insurance Agency, explained how the National Flood Insurance Program works —and doesn’t work — and how private flood insurance can be used to fill the gap for homeowners. Hecht’s private flood insurance program insures more than $3 billion of property and has registered more than 2,000 independent agencies in 37 states to market the program.

Related: Time to act on flood bill

Hank Watkins president Lloyd's North America

Hank Watkins, president, Lloyd’s North America, moderating the “Shark Tank” panel. (Photo: Eileen Blumenthal)

Moderated by Hank Watkins, president of Lloyd’s North America, six budding entrepreneurs each had 10 minutes to explain their ideas to the audience and to the judges during a panel styled after the ABC television show, “Shark Tank.” The judges also had an opportunity to ask questions of each entrepreneur about their ideas, their revenue models, their customer base and their competitors. The audience voted on which one they thought was the best, as did the judges. Votes are still being tabulated.

About the symposium

Now in its 10th year, the Entrepreneurial Insurance Symposium was created by Dallas-based MarketScout to showcase innovation and entrepreneurialism in the insurance industry. In 2010, MarketScout formed the Entrepreneurial Insurance Alliance of companies supporting innovation in the insurance industry. EIA participants include companies from the investment, underwriting, technology, processing and distribution segments of the insurance industry.

The goal of the organization is to ensure that good ideas reach the market and are not lost in the morass of legal, investment and processing challenges. Members provide support, including investment capital, administrative services, accounting systems, software implementation, access to underwriting capacity and worldwide distribution.

Each year more than 400 insurers, intermediaries and agents attend the symposium to share  ideas, trends and concepts in insurance distribution, underwriting and automation. The National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research offers symposium attendees the opportunity to receive continuing education credit, and the symposium qualifies for a CIC or CRM update.

Related: Key takeaways: The Entrepreneurial Insurance Symposium, Day 1

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