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How important are insurance conferences?

By Herminia S. Jacinto

AFTER a three-year hiatus, insurance industry conferences are back with a vengeance. Although during those years, virtual conferences were held by various groups and associations. Technology was at its best. Participants just opened their laptops and or computers and they were brought to the simulated halls of Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, a favorite conference venue. But it was not the same as in-person meetings and conferences. We missed the warm handshakes and hugs from friends and business partners.

My former job as a reinsurance player made me attend those conferences where I met almost everybody who I needed to deal with. I cannot remember anymore how many cups of coffee and glasses of wine went into my system during those meetings and the socials that came with them. But why are there so many conferences that you have to attend? My former boss from our holding company, a banker, used to ask me that every time I sought approval to attend one. What do you guys talk about? He missed the point that insurance is not a stand-alone business. Sharing and reinsuring risks mitigate the possible losses that may be incurred by these companies.

The insurance industry is not the only business group that holds conferences both locally and in other parts of the world. One can see the ads in the papers inviting participants to conferences on various topics. Locally, we have the Philippine Insurance Summit which was initiated by the grand old man of the industry, Reynaldo de Dios, owner and publisher of the Insurance Philippines. De Dios has since retired from active practice and has endorsed the holding of the summit to the Insurance Institute for Asia and the Pacific. This summit is held in the second quarter of every year. Speakers come from some of our government agencies in charge of agriculture, climate change, environment and other agencies with a direct relationship to insurance. Volcanic eruption is always a favorite topic with Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum doing the presentation. Experts in insurance and reinsurance from global players share their knowledge and expertise gained from their various clients all over the world.

Singapore is the favorite venue for these insurance conferences. The very popular and well-attended conference is the Singapore International Reinsurers Conference which will be held in November this year in Marina Bay Sands. This conference attracts participants from all over the world wanting to meet their business partners and friends. It is a huge market where insurance players can look for new business and exchange their own as well. One can learn a lot of new products and processes from experts in the field of insurance. Our local underwriters will be busy looking for the scarce reinsurance support for the risks that have been affected by the recent calamities. Meeting the counterparts face to face results in better terms and strong relationships.

Another popular gathering is the East Asian Insurance Congress (EAIC), which is a grouping of 12 cities in Asia. The very first EAIC was held in Tokyo in 1962, and the second one was in Manila. Since then, conferences were held every two years hosted by the member cities. The last face-to-face conference was held in Manila in May 2018 and drew around 1,000 delegates and participants. The pandemic prevented the holding of the conference in Seoul, Korea in 2020 and 2022. Instead, a virtual conference was held but participation was not the same as the in-person ones. We are now looking forward to the 2024 conference which will be held in Hong Kong. This conference combines technical sessions and social events. But what I think is most appreciated and productive is the networking among the participants, clients, intermediaries, insurance and reinsurance companies.

Attending these conferences must be expensive, one will ask. Yes but let us not count the cost but the benefits that the companies and the participants get from them. Insurance companies provide budgets for these conferences and choose very well the person or persons they send to them.

Save the date: September 2024 for the EAIC in Hong Kong!


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