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27th RIMS Conference reaches new heights.

27th RIMS Conference Reaches New Heights

The plane broke through the hazy sky above Hartsfield International Airport. The decent was quick, as was the disembarkment from the aircraft and passage, via subway, through this ultramodern regional transportation hub. Then, as the crowd, spotted with risk managers and insurance and risk management service providers, ascended the mammoth escalator on the way to the baggage claim, a huge photograph of the city jetted out at them. The city of Atlanta, GA, which in recent years has been transformed into a leading business and conference center, had risen before them.

Like its host city, this year's Annual RIMS Conference also reached new heights. The conference brought approximately 9,000 people to Atlanta from April 9 to 14. More than 4,800 registrants participated in 154 educational sessions, accompanied by an exhibition by 225 insurance and risk management service providers.

The effects of continued market softening were evident, as insurance executives and marketing people flooded the hotel corridors, the exhibit hall and restaurants and lured the media to breakfasts and press conferences. Although several issues continue to haunt risk managers and the insurance industry, few seemed to stand out as a sharp thorn. Perhaps, that's because there is a new administration sitting back in last year's conference site, Washington, DC, as attorney Jim McIntyre, pointed out during the Annual Membership Breakfast on Monday morning.

Issue Briefing

"There's a lot of wind in DC," said Mr. McIntyre, RIMS' counsel on the Hill. The Bush Administration, as well as several new congressmen, have been going through a bumpy "honeymoon period," he added. Mr. McIntyre was referring to how Congress spent its first months debating a pay raise and the Tower nomination for defense secretary. As a result of the Tower rejection, a lack of a clear agenda and failing to respond quickly to the Exxon oil spill in Alaska, President George Bush's leadership is being questioned.

Mr. McIntyre, however, sees the honeymoon ending and expects things to heat up in Washington soon. Serious debate over such insurance issues as McCarran-Ferguson repeal or modification and Section 89 reform should resume.

Nader Versus Bernstein

Perhaps, some fuel was generated during the RIMS Conference two days later when consumer advocate Ralph Nader fought it out with insurance attorney George Bernstein over the question of "State vs. Federal Regulation of Insurance--Should All Roads Lead to Washington?" Before an attentive audience of more than 2,000 people and moderator Bill Monroe, the former television anchorman, Mr. Nader once again lashed out at the insurance industry.

He called for the elimination of insurers' "substantial exemption from price fixing through McCarran-Ferguson," lifting a ban prohibiting the Federal Trade Commission from investigating insurers, creation of an Office of Insurance Statistics, Data Collection and Analysis, federal regulation of Lloyd's of London and international reinsurers doing business in the United States and a federal back-up insurance facility. On a state level, among other things, Mr. Nader called for increasing regulatory authorities' budgets and more prior approval of rate increases and policy cancellations.

In his response, Mr. Bernstein lashed out at Mr. Nader and other consumer advocates, as well as the plaintiffs' bar, who have been seeking repeal of McCarran-Ferguson. Since 1955, he said, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of insurance companies due to the federal act, resulting in increased industry competition.

"Consumer advocates preach competition but actually oppose it," he claimed. Trial lawyers, he added, want revenge for tort reform and believe that they will profit from an increase in litigation if McCarran-Ferguson is repealed.

Without the sharing of loss experience data permitted under the statute, Mr. Bernstein explained that the number of insurance companies would decrease because smaller insurers would not know how to price their products. As a result, the larger companies will take larger shares of the market, and in some cases, prices will increase to compensate for the uncertainties.

Mr. Nader countered that Mr. Bernstein "speaks competition but doesn't talk about repeal of anti-rebate and fictitious group laws" that prevent agents and brokers from returning part of their commissions to buyers and individuals from buying insurance as a group, respectively. "If you want to amend the anti-rebate and the anti-group laws, Mr. Bernstein advised, "take on the agents."

Mr. Nader also accused the insurance industry of not doing enough in the loss control area. "Too many companies have in their files information about unsafe bridges, unsafe automobile models, unsafe flammable fabrics, and they are not providing this information to their policyholders or to product safety authorities," he said. "Insurance companies have got to be something more than a passthrough mechanism. They have to spend much more effort on loss prevention."

Mr. Bernstein simply responded, "I don't think anyone this room has to be made aware of the loss prevention efforts of the insurance industry."

Following the debate, a general session on "Employee Benefits Issues--The Next Four Years," featured Assistant Labor Secretary David Walker, a benefits consultant and congressional committee staff members. The discussion highlighted a number of key benefits issues, including mandatory health care insurance and financing retiree benefits. Other featured speakers at the conference included newspaper columnist Jack Anderson and educator Michael Mescon, both of whom provided a lot of food for thought as attendees ate lunch.

Entranced by Anderson

So many registrants, more than 2,000, came to hear Mr. Anderson on Tuesday that the crowd overflowed from the huge main ballroom of the Marriott Marquis into another ballroom, where two closed circuit television monitors were set-up. Mr. Anderson accused the federal government of overspending, overtaxing and "over-wasting." Tying that and such issues as education and drugs to our ability to compete with foreigners, who are buying up America, he even touched upon a favorite topic of risk managers, litigation.

"Lawyers are harassing our producers. America has been bogged down in litigation," he commented. "Japan has engineers, not lawyers."

The solutions involve change, Mr. Anderson maintained. "But change involves risk, and bureaucrats hate risks, so they resist change," he said. Citing the Apollo space program as an example and indirectly referring to the Challenger space shuttle, he said, "You cannot explore any frontiers without risks, and the astronauts would be the first to agree...If we ground all space exploration for two years every time there is an accident, we're not going anywhere."

And as the listeners were totally silent, Mr. Anderson entranced them with a story about how Soviet cosmonauts have viewed the Earth from space. He equated the tranquil scene they have described as a sign that world peace lies ahead. He then snapped the crowd out of its trance by instilling fear that the prospects for peace are being threatened by a sophisticated and violent drug trade.

At Thursday's luncheon, Dr. Mescon, dean of Georgia State University's business school, spoke about the importance of excellence within an organization from the top down. "Don't blame the clerk," said Dr. Mescon. "What you're getting is precisely what you're getting from the boss."

Registrants reacted very positively to both Mr. Anderson's and Dr. Mescon's speeches, as well as the speakers at the special sessions. There was also much talk about the quality of this year's seminar sessions, which ran from Monday through Friday afternoon.

Getting around to the seminar sessions, which were held simultaneously in four major hotels, and to the exhibits on two floors of the Atlanta Merchandise Mart, also stirred many conversations. For the most part, the facilities are joined by several glass-enclosed skywalks and the Peachtree Center, which is filled with a variety of shops and fast-food outlets.

After Dark

At night, the pace of activity was just as, if not more, hectic as during the day, but a good time was had by all. The Spencer Educational Foundation started things off with a three-hour-plus reception on Sunday night. Billed as the Cotton States Exposition, guests were greeted by the sounds of "Dixie" and scenery bringing back the days of plantations and steamboats in the South. Magicians, jugglers, puppeteers and Rhett and Scarlet from "Gone with the Wind" entertained. Food was aplenty. Many took to the dance floor, and others to the blackjack tables or several of the games of chance, which raised approximately $1,100 for the foundation.

Another well attended event was the CIGNA-sponsored Ray Charles concert at the Omni Coliseum on Wednesday night. American International Group also sponsored some noteworthy events, including receptions at the Carter Presidential Library and Scitrek, an interactive science museum.

Much daytime fun took place in the exhibit hall--putting at the CIGNA exhibit, watching panthers and pythons at Mutual of Omaha and eating Captive Crunch bars at the Vermont booth. Also, early Wednesday morning, 76 runners participated in the five-kilometer RIMS Run at Memorial Park. The race, sponsored by Frank B. Hall & Co., raised $2,445 for the Spencer Foundation. Although 119 runners signed up for the event, a good number backed out due to the chilly air. Tom Houldsworth, director of the Florida League of Cities in Winter Park, FL, was the clear victor with a 18:09 finish. Sandy McKean, risk manager for Computer Sciences Corp. of El Segunda, CA, was the top female finisher with a 23:16 time. They were both honored later that day at lunch.

Conference Honorees

Several others were also honored at the conference. Kathryn McIntyre, ARM, associate publisher and editor of Business Insurance received the Dorothy and Harry Goodell Award, which recognizes outstanding continuing achievement in furthering the goals of risk management. In presenting the society's highest annual honor, RIMS President Richard C. Heydinger said: "Over the past 12 years, Kathryn McIntyre's quick grasp of the complex issues and problems facing risk and benefits managers and insurance professionals has led to in-depth analyses of how the business works. Through these efforts, much of its mystique has been demystified."

Samuel Y. Fisher Jr., insurance manager for Hamilton Oil Corporation in Denver, CO, received the Richard W. Bland Memorial Award for his outstanding effort in the legislative and regulatory areas in Colorado, where, among other things, captive laws and policy cancellation provisions have been changed. "Mr. Fisher has been a persuasive spokesman for RIMS in the legislative and regulatory arenas," said Robert W. Esenberg, RIMS vice president-governmental affairs while presenting the award along with Gerald L. Belfiglio, 1989-90 vice president-member affairs and secretary. "His achievements for the society and the commercial insurance buyer prove that one dedicated individual can make a difference in the public policy process."

The RIMS Research Award went to Anne Marie DiBella, risk management administrator-self insurance for Browning-Ferris Industries in Houston, TX, for her paper "The Future of Long-Term Care for the Elderly and Its Impact on Corporations." The award was presented by Barbara Fein, RIMS vice president-research. The Cristy Award, honoring the risk manager with the highest cumulative average for the three examinations leading to the Associate in Risk Management designation, was bestowed upon Mary T. Christensen, director of risk management for Mills Memorial Hospital in San Mateo, CA. It was presented by Margaret P. Layne, vice president-education.

In addition, five full-time students of risk management/insurance each received a $4,000 scholarship from the Spencer Foundation at the foundation's board meeting during the conference. The recipients are Karen L. Hamilton, Florida State University at Tallahassee; Brenda F. Powell and Elizabeth A. Rudd, University of Georgia; Kelli Jo Vredevelt, Ferris State University; and Rick G. Winch, University of Wisconsin at Madison. Nine other awards were made under the foundation's matching funds program, through which individual RIMS chapters contribute funds to the foundation. This year's participating chapters and sponsored students are Atlanta, Roberto Baron, Georgia State University; Carolinas, Dawn Marie Ivey, Appalachian State University; and Minnesota, Mary E. Richardson, University of Minnesota. Four other chapters made matching funds awards to the general scholarship funds of designated institutions as follows: Cleveland/Akron, Ohio State University; New York, The College of Insurance; Northeastern Illinois, Illinois Wesleyan University; and Washington, Washington State University. The Rocky Mountain and South Florida chapters made their contributions specifically to the foundation.

Boston Bound

Next year's conference will be held in Boston, MA, from April 29 to May 4. Programming is now being arranged, and RIMS members will be notified as plans are finalized. The 28th annual conference is expected to reach even higher heights.

PHOTO : Downtown Atlanta Skyline by night. Members of the RIMS Executive Committee, led by Denis

PHOTO : Julien, vice president-conference, kick off Atlanta '89. Columnist Jack Anderson and

PHOTO : Michael Mescon draw large crowds as luncheon speakers. Exhibitors get their shows on the

PHOTO : road. Incoming RIMS President Ron Stasch recognizes RIMS President Dick Heydinger for a

PHOTO : year of outstanding service. Comin' through the pines during the Spencer Foundation

PHOTO : Memorial 5K Run. RIMS Executive Committee members Bob Esenberg and Jerry Belfiglio present

PHOTO : the Bland Award to Rocky Mountain Chapter member Sam Fisher.

PHOTO : Kathryn McIntyre, associate publisher of Business Insurance, accepts the Goodell Award

PHOTO : from RIMS President Dick Heydinger. U.S. Army color guard opens the annual membership

PHOTO : breakfast. Ralph Nader, moderator Bill Monroe and George Bernstein during their special

PHOTO : session on insurance regulation.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Risk Management Society Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Risk and Insurance Management Society
Author:Schussel, Mark L.
Publication:Risk Management
Date:Jun 1, 1989
Previous Article:Wrap-up insurance programs that grant control.
Next Article:Managing risks East to West.

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