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This fall, the Society of Insurance Research (SIR) hosted their 51st annual conference, bringing together leaders from across the insurance industry. And as we approach winter, we’re still making our way through all the valuable content presented at the conference. The conferences co-chairs Neelam Paharia with Allstate and Lori Schoenberger with Amerisure did a fantastic job curating an agenda that delivered.  Recently, SIR announced both members and non-members will have on demand access to the presentations and recorded sessions via Whova, the virtual conference platform used. 

The event explored a wide variety of topics, from diversity and inclusion to the major digital transformation happening across the industry. Various verticals were represented, from auto to dental, offering attendees a holistic view of the latest innovations and developments across the industry. 

As a Diamond Sponsor, the Cipher team was excited to virtually attend the conference and share our latest prediction research insights on the insurance industry, while connecting with attendees from a wide variety of insurance companies. 

In this article, we’re recapping some of our favorite events from the conference, highlighting the key takeaways and sharing quotes from attendees.

Before we share our recap, we'd like to thank all of the committee members that made this year's event so valuable. 

SIR 51st Annual Conference Committee


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About the Society of Insurance Research (SIR)

Originally founded in 1970, SIR is a nonprofit that acts as a forum for insurance practitioners to exchange ideas around insurance research, marketing, and planning. Members come from every corner of the insurance industry and include all kinds of practitioners, from actuaries to underwriters. 

Each fall, SIR hosts an annual conference to bring together the leading minds from the insurance industry to network, discuss trends, and learn about the best practices that drive the industry as a whole forward.

This year, the conference moved to a virtual format, with hundreds of attendees from around the country able to join from the comfort of their own homes.  Over a two day program, attendees heard from a variety of speakers organized into several tracks: commercial, general, health, life, and personal. 

Here’s a breakdown of five of the best sessions from the conference.

1. Trends to Embrace and Fear

Everyone is curious to know what their industry will look like as we come out of the pandemic and enter 2022, and in this session, speakers Brian and Patrick Sullivan from Risk Information explored the trends shaping the property and casualty insurance marketplace. 

While some trends present a threat to the insurance industry, others represent a huge opportunity. In this presentation, Brian and Patrick walked the audience through the major factors currently disrupting the status quo of the industry. Together, they shared data on the rise of virtual claims, discussed emerging challenges to credit, and explored the dramatic shift in historical loss experience that now undermines future ratings. All told, the session offered attendees a detailed, compelling overview of the state of the market as we head into 2022.

Here’s what Jaimie Pickles, CEO & Co-founder at First Interpreter, Inc. thought about the session:

It’s tough to pick a favorite session from the seven personal lines track presentations but the Trends to Embrace and Fear session in the personal lines track was terrific. Brian and Patrick Sullivan covered a ton of issues, and their presentation discussion document is packed with important information that will serve as a kind of road map for the personal lines insurance space heading into 2022!”

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2. Eliminating Innovation Theater: How to Invoke Subscription-Based Concepts to Catalyze Continual Life Insurance Risk Management 

This session, led by Lisa Wardlaw, Global Head of Insurance Solutions at ICEYE, explored strategies that insurance organizations could use to deliver significant advances in their innovations. With extensive experience leading major strategy and innovation initiatives at several Fortune 100 companies, Lisa has a track record of implementing technologies to radically improve the way that insurance companies operate. 

The session focused on how companies can leverage authentic innovation strategies to optimize operations. Lisa shared the importance of consumer-led innovation in building enduring insurance products that improve risk management for carriers. 

Related: How a Top Insurance Company was Able to Outpace their Competition and Better Support Customers During COVID-19

3. The Changing Health Insurance Landscape

The health insurance landscape is constantly in flux, and as Director of Competitive Intelligence at Florida Blue, Geoff Cich has a better handle on the current state of the industry than most. In this session, he shared key takeaways attendees need to know about the changing landscape, offering insights into what these changes mean for health plans and stakeholders as we head into a new year. 

Geoff boasts a strong track record leading competitive intelligence efforts in the healthcare industry, having previously built and developed the CI function at United Healthcare over a period of more than 20 years. He explored three key trends in the healthcare industry that insurers need to be aware of:

4. InsurTech Fueled Product Innovation Panel

This panel featured speakers from four leading insurtech organizations:

Together, the panel shared real-life examples from their organizations of how innovations in insurtech are changing the way insurers interact with customers. The panelists shared their experiences of managing consumer expectations, explained how they test and adopt new concepts in their organizations, and reflected on the various ways they use data to enable better decision-making. 

Towards the end of the session, the panelists turned their thoughts to the future, exploring what’s next for the burgeoning insurtech industry and breaking down the various roadblocks that still need to be overcome. 

5. Climate Change Panel

Another popular panel explored the importance and impact of climate change on insurance organizations. The panel featured four speakers:

Over the course of the hour-long panel discussion, the panelists shared tangible examples of how their organizations used climate change and extreme weather research to inform product development, underwriting, and reserving. The speakers also discussed strategies that go beyond risk transfer, explaining the roles that various stakeholders must play in sharing this climate risk. 

“My favorite session has to be the Climate Change panel (general track). The panelists were incredibly smart and well-seasoned in their individual areas, and even though a couple were from competing firms, they were able to bring a sense of urgency to this issue, and show that individuals, communities, carriers, and government all play a role in sharing the risk.” –– Lori Schoenberger, Market Analyst at Amerisure Insurance

Looking Forward: SIR Events in 2022

If you missed the 2021 SIR Annual Conference, why not attend a SIR event in 2022? SIR hosts both a Spring Research Workshop series, as well as the 2022 SIR Annual Conference, which is due to take place October 16 - 18, in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Interested in learning more about the intersection of insurance and competitive intelligence? Download Cipher’s Complete Guide to Competitive Intelligence in the Insurance Market, or visit our Insurance Industry Resources.