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Virtual insurance conferences

By Herminia S. Jacinto

INSURANCE is a people business. We need to meet the person we are selling insurance to and explain the benefits of being insured without him getting scared of illness or death! Intermediaries or insurance agents want to discuss and argue with their principals to get better terms and conditions for their clients. We used to look forward to visits from insurance and or reinsurance specialists from all over the globe to exchange business. And, we love to attend conferences and similar events where we can learn and be updated with the latest insurance trends and developments. There is the thrill of shaking our friends' hands and exchanging personal greetings with business colleagues who have become personal friends as well.

The pandemic has changed all these traditional ways of doing business. We have learned how to sell insurance online, via several applications now available in the market. We have learned to deliver policies, have them paid and signed electronically. At the flick of a finger and without leaving the comforts of one's home, one can "meet" and "greet" colleagues, clients and other business partners! To be licensed as an insurance agent, one used to have to go to the testing centers like the Insurance Commission (IC) office and the Insurance Institute for Asia and the Pacific (IIAP) to sit down for the examinations. Now, one can take the exams wherever one is using one's own gadget while under the supervision and proctoring of the IC or IIAP using artificial intelligence (AI).

But the events that we really missed are the conferences which gather many insurance players and experts and are held in various parts of the world. The Philippine non-life insurance industry holds an insurance summit every year, which is usually very well attended. Last year and this year, the summit had to go virtual. We still got good speakers and participants, but we missed the handshakes, the face-to-face meetings and the camaraderie that comes with events like these. Last Friday, the Philippine Life Insurance Association (PLIA) celebrated its 72nd anniversary with a Mass, and a very nice program, done virtually. We saw and heard the Insurance Commissioner Dennis Funa deliver a short but meaningful video message. The PLIA president Rico Bautista looked so good on screen while delivering his message. There was entertainment provided by a group of talented female singers. And lunch was served! I mean delivered to the various registered participants — another innovation during this time when we cannot get together for the usual lunch. It was a successful virtual event but not quite because we missed greeting one another in person.

There are several regional and global conferences that are lined up for the next few months, but I want to talk about the conference that insurance players always look forward to. This is the East Asian Insurance Congress (EAIC) which is held every two years in various Asean/Asian countries. The last one was held in Manila on May 6 to 9, 2018 at the Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. Over a thousand participants, including guests and speakers, attended the conference. Exhibition booths hosted by many insurance players made the event more informative and educational. The closing dinner featured presentations from the various cities, competing with their very unique costumes and dances.

The next EAIC was to have been held in Seoul, Korea in October 2020 but due to the prevailing conditions at the time, the organizers canceled the event. For this year's conference, it still was not safe to plan for an in-person event because of the uncertainties we still face. The EAIC is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee this year, having been founded in Tokyo, Japan, in October 1962 by several Japanese executives and our very own Mr. Enrique Sevilla. The second meeting was held in Manila in 1964 which had a lot more participants than in Tokyo. To quote the late Mr. Fukumuro, an actuary from Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance Co. and a founder of EAIC: "The EAIC was born in Tokyo, but it was just a symbol. It was in Manila that it attained substance and manhood."

If times are better, the Diamond Jubilee of the EAIC would have been a big and happy in-person event for the insurance industry. Mr. Allan Santos, president of the Philippine National Reinsurance Corp. and the current EAIC president, invites everyone to join us in the Virtual EAIC that will be held on Sept. 21 to 22, 2022, (two half-days with the other halves dedicated to networking).


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