From the Chair: It Was Great to be Back!

“Let Insurance Research Play a Hand” was the theme of the 2022 Annual Conference sponsored by the Society of Insurance Research in Las Vegas October 16-18. Approximately 175 insurance industry professionals attended the meeting to connect with one another and collaborate on solutions to tackle current and future challenges. 

Getting back to a live event after two years meant there was “some rust to shake off” when planning this year’s conference, according to chair Austin Tucker. 

“We had to make some judgement calls due to this being a post-pandemic world where old assumptions and norms no longer applied. I think the Annual Conference committee did a great job talking through these challenges together, which allowed us to feel that we put the best decision out there for the conference and the attendees,” he said.

Austin, Vice President of Risk at Verisk, said he popped into several sessions across all 31 sessions during the meeting that sounded fascinating, but his duties as conference chair kept him pretty busy. 

“I enjoyed Telisa Yancy’s talk a lot as well as hosting my session in the Emerging Trends track,” he said. Ms. Yancy, the new president of American Family Insurance Group, gave an inspiring keynote address about finding opportunities within risks during the event. 

As Austin and other SIR Annual Conference planning committee members tie up loose ends and look forward to the holiday season, Austin said he has some ideas for improving next year, including “more cowbell”: “Seriously, it is hard to get people’s attention during breaks or meals to let them know that a session is starting. I was fortunate to attend a conference similar in size to SIR’s annual conference for several years, and they used a cowbell to give time warnings. It was a great reminder, and you never mistook what that sound was when you heard it,” he said.

Austin said he’d also like to see expansion to include other areas of insurance that are often overlooked, such as agents, Managing General Agents, venture capitalists and insurtech companies.  

“All of these groups bring a unique and interesting perspective to our industry that I don’t think we tap into enough outside of narrow silos within a company. I believe they have a lot of valuable insight and perspective that could be brought to the table,” he said.

The time, energy and planning required to create a well-run event such as the SIR Annual Conference did not feel like work to Austin.

“Honestly, this is a lot of fun, so it doesn’t seem like work. It was great to be back in person again.  After such a long time and much change to the insurance industry, it was great to be back among friends and peers to reconnect, reflect, and reenergize,” he said.