While networking activities between specialty insurers and brokers remain the centerpiece of the annual meeting of the National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices Ltd., one new item on this year’s schedule promises to bring two generations of NAPSLO members together.
Baby Boomer and Generation Y representatives will compete in NAPSLO’s version of the popular television game show, “Family Feud,” with Steven Gross, a wholesale broker with Metro Insurance Services in Springfield, N.J., taking the place of TV host John O’Hurley.
(Generation Y, also known as The Millennial Generation or as Generation Next, are often referred to as “Millennials,” born between the early ’70s and late ’90s.)
Mr. Gross said one question he’ll ask is, “What does Generation Y like most about the insurance industry?” Underwriting perhaps? Vacations? Traveling? Those were possible answers the NAPSLO host ventured to guess during a recent interview.
Mr. Gross said questions will be sent to 100 NAPSLO members in advance of the meeting so the competing teams can try to match the “top five answers”–as they do in the TV version of the game. (See related text box, “The Players,” for the identities of the team members.)
The rest of the questions are in development, he said, noting that many will be geared to the Generation Gap, while others will focus on insurance and workplace issues.
The intent is to allow each generation to gain perspective on the other, said Mr. Gross, who is also chair of NAPSLO’s Career Awareness committee.
The Career Awareness committee, which developed out the NAPSLO Communications & Technology Committee in late 2007 (officially launching in 2008), later spawned The Next Generation subcommittee–which will have five members making up the younger team of the Family Feud game.
Giving some background about the committee goals and the work accomplished so far, Mr. Gross said the original charge of the committee was to create awareness of the surplus lines industry among college students so the NAPSLO members could recruit them to positions at their firms. “We’re doing that by going out to various universities and preaching the word of surplus lines,” he said.
Responding to a second charge–helping to advance the careers of younger members–members of the committee formed The Next Generation group this year. A key goal of the group is getting the next generation–employees under age 40–involved with NAPSLO functions and committees, Mr. Gross said, speculating that less than one-quarter of the most active members are part of the under-40 group.
Besides the Family Feud panel, the Next Generation Group will host a cocktail party at the annual meeting, and there will a Next Generation Lounge open throughout the meeting.
While the cocktail party is actually the second one held for members under 40, following a successful gathering at last year’s meeting, Mr. Gross views this year’s gathering as the “coming out party” for the Next Generation Group, which is now officially a subgroup of NAPSLO with its own board of directors and by-laws.
The Family Feud panel is the last item on the formal schedule for the NAPSLO annual meeting, which offers both educational and networking opportunities to its members starting on Wednesday, Oct. 7, and concluding Saturday, Oct. 10, at the Orlando World Center Marriott in Florida.
The educational sessions start on Friday, Oct. 8, with an overview of the state of the property and casualty industry, which will be presented by Robert P. Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute.
Mr. Hartwig’s one-hour presentation, starting at 9 a.m., will follow opening remarks from NAPSLO President John Wood, and a diploma presentation to this year’s class of Associate in Surplus Lines Insurance designation, which is set to begin at 8:30 a.m.
The ASLI program for surplus lines professionals was developed by the Insurance Institute of America, with support from NAPSLO and the Derek Hughes/NAPSLO Educational Foundation. The Foundation also sponsors awards that will be presented to top graduates.
Following Mr. Hartwig’s address, the focus will narrow from a view of the entire industry to the surplus lines segment when three wholesale broker members of NAPSLO give their perspectives during a panel discussion starting at 10:30 a.m. Scheduled to take part are Maureen Caviston, president of Partners Specialty Group in Stamford, Conn.; Jim Keating, president of The Keating Group in Boston; and Tim Turner, president of CRC-California in Glendale.
When the meeting kicks off on Oct. 7, the first activity will be the opening of the Brokers’ Lounge and Brokers’ Club tables at 9 a.m., according to the agenda set forth on NAPSLO’s Web site, www.napslo.org. (An abbreviated version of the schedule accompanies this article). The lounge will remain open on Wednesday until 5 p.m., reopening on Thursday and Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and again on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
To the uninitiated, the large time blocks on the schedule devoted to Brokers’ Lounge activities might suggest that the meeting provides rest from busy work schedules for the over 2,600 members that signed up for the four-day event.
Veteran attendees know, however, that the opposite is true–since the Brokers’ Lounge hours have been a prominent part of the NAPSLO meeting schedule for many years, providing time to form new partnerships and strike distribution deals.
The theme of this year’s conference–”Association Through Partnership”–underscores the fact that meetings between partners (carrier and broker NAPSLO members) whether in the Brokers’ Lounge, on-site or in off-site hospitality suites are the central activity of the conference, with many members sporting meeting calendars with appointments filled in from dawn until dusk.
Reporting on meeting attendance in NAPSLO’s August newsletter, NAPSLO President John Wood, who is also president of Specialty Risk Associates in Shreveport, La., said that “while some meetings have reported decreases, our convention attendance should be an indication of our members’ support,” noting that additional registrations are expected.
Last year’s annual meeting in San Diego drew more than 3,000 attendees.