For the first time in three years, some 1,500 insurance professionals from New Jersey and New York gathered, live and in-person at a new location—the Hard Rock Hotel Casino in Atlantic City—for two-and-a-half days for the return of the Annual Conference hosted by PIANJ and PIANY, June 12-14.
Those insurance professionals looking to grow their relationships and industry connections; energize their business acumen; and increase their knowledge found just what they were looking for during this favorite event. There were new ventures—from a cannabis insurance panel, to a keynote by renowned global futurist, Jack Uldrich, to InsurTech demonstrations—to time-tested favorites—from the expansive trade show, to the NJYIP Fun Run to benefit Special Olympics New Jersey—everybody who attended the event could find something to benefit their business and clients.
To see photos from this year’s Annual Conference, access the 2022 Annual Conference albums on Flickr.
Showcases and networking galore
Insurance professionals had an opportunity to discuss the new products and services offered by companies, and they had the chance to catch up with old friends and make new connections during dedicated trade-show time. More than 130 companies and vendors exhibited at this year’s conference.
Additionally, six InsurTech companies highlighted their latest offerings that are designed to help agents streamline their processes and provide better customer service to their clients. Conference participants could attend demonstrations from: Ascend, Aureus Analytics, bolt access, LeO, the Endurance Group, and Safari.
What will the future bring?
During the networking luncheon on Monday, newly elected PIANJ President Tom Wilkens and PIANY President Tim Dean, CIC, CRM, both spoke.
Wilkens said: “Our industry is in the midst of change. There is no doubt that these pandemic years have changed the nature of our industry. It is ironic that just before the COVID pandemic, our then PIANJ President Bruce Blum challenged us to: ‘Innovate, Adapt, and Overcome.’ The pandemic certainly forced us to adapt and overcome.
But more significantly, it has accelerated our need to innovate, and it is imperative that PIA is at the forefront of this innovation. The ways in which we communicate, educate, and provide services must continue to evolve to match the needs of our members and clients.”
Wilkens stated that PIA Northeast will continue to be a part of the agent-to-agent exchange of information, knowledge, and ideas that keeps insurance professionals on the cusp of innovation. All of this will be facilitated through thought-leadership within the association and the industry.
During his address, Dean said: “It’s a privilege to serve with each of you. Your dedication to this organization provides a continuity of leadership that allows us to work on bold projects, and achieve goals that span multiple administrations. I’m proud to be in your company.
“This is an intense period of change for our industry. Client behaviors and expectations are shifting, and a new generation of customers is entering the insurance market. At the same time, the risk landscape is evolving at a rapid pace. And, there is an overwhelming wealth of technology transforming the industry at an unprecedented rate. Agents must move faster than ever to keep up with innovations and rising customer expectations—all while operating in an increasingly unpredictable risk environment.
“It’s easy to get overwhelmed with this shifting landscape. But as long as we ensure the customer is placed at the heart of every decision we make, we will thrive. No matter how much our industry changes, the role of the independent agent remains relevant and essential. We have an enduring mission of providing financial security and protection for our clients.”
After the PIANJ and PIANY presidents’ addresses, Jack Uldrich offered his foresight to help people better prepare for what the future may bring. Using transformative principles of unlearning, he highlighted how people can do away with obsolete knowledge and assumptions.
While Uldrich focused on technology being the future of the insurance industry, he said people still will play a vital role in the industry’s future. And, while he doesn’t think that technology will replace people, it will replace those who don’t embrace it. “You will need to leverage these technologies to become an even better trusted adviser than you already are,” he said.
Regarding technology, he noted how it’s rare that people invent something wildly new, rather they build on existing technology. As he thinks about the future of insurance, he realizes that it’s going to be how people take all the current technology (e.g., AI, cloud computing, block chain), and use them to deliver new types of insurance and products. So, insurance professionals need to start thinking about their industry differently.
“As you think about the future, if your idea or product sounds plausible, I’m here to tell you, your competitors are already thinking about it. If you want to be one step ahead of them, you have to take your thinking to ideas that sound a little bit unreasonable. If you have the courage to do that—and stay in that discomfort and be a little unorthodox—you will be a little closer to where the future is going to head in the insurance industry.”
The event featured six education sessions, which were all approved for continuing-education credits.
Moderated by Barbara Winsky, CPCU, AIS, ASLI, ARM, ARe, CRIS, CIW, of Jencap Specialty Insurance Services, in New York, N.Y., the panelists for Sunday’s Delving into the Weeds of Cannabis Insurance—Karen Adamsbaum, CIC, of the John Morgan McLachlan Agency Inc., in Somerville, N.J.; Keith Distel, MBA, of Underwriting Admiral Insurance Group, in Chicago, Ill.; and Erich Schutz of Jencap Specialty Insurance Services, in Mendon, Mass.—discussed cannabis operations from “seed to sale” and the associated insurance coverages needed for this growing industry. They covered the cannabis industry’s history and key definitions, form verbiage, and underwriting risk requirements that are unique to the cannabis industry.
Additionally, Cathy Trischan, CPCU, CIC, CRM, AU, ARM, AAI, CRIS, MLIS, TRIP, taught Certificates of Insurance–Do’s, Don’ts & When to Say No!, and Working From Home–Coverage Issues to Consider on Monday.
Finally, John Fear, CPIA, CISR, lead Wild Weather, Wind, Water and Warming = Disasters, and Proceed with Caution … Your Client Purchased a Condo on Monday. He also closed out the conference on Tuesday with E&O and the Future of the Independent Agent.
Nighttime Beach Party
New for this year, PIA Northeast took over the LandShark Bar & Grill for a nighttime beach party. Those who attended were able to put their toes in the sand and enjoy live music from The GoodMan Fiske Band … and dance the night away.
The Young Insurance Professionals meet up for a night of great music, dancing, and craft drinks at the Hard Rock Café Backstage. The young minds that are shaping the insurance industry were able hone their skills, build their networks, and perfect their dance moves.
Fun Run for Special Olympics raises over $87,000
The 38-year partnership between PIANJ, NJYIP and the Special Olympics New Jersey continued with the annual Fun Run for Special Olympics. An award breakfast followed, where Special Olympics athletes, runners, and event supporters celebrated.
The top male finishers included Tyler Nickels in first place (24:36); Ethan Tazsby in second place (25:23); and Damon Pesce in third place (25:37). The top female finishers included Rachel Price in first place (26:01); Kendall Rives in second place (32:36); and Laura Castellano in third place (35:45).
FMI, a major event sponsor for many years, was the company that raised the most money, contributing more than $63,000 to the Fun Run total. In all, the Fun Run raised $87,332 this year, benefiting Special Olympics New Jersey.
During the awards breakfast Special Athlete Bobby Fredericks—who ran in the race—talked about his participation in Special Olympics. In his personal statement, he said: “Special Olympics has helped build my confidence to try new things. I have learned about healthy living and how to be part of a team—not only on the playing field but also in life. Special Olympics sports programs have given me opportunities to travel to many places to compete in sports and make many new friends along the way. For me, Special Olympics means that people with intellectual disabilities get the chance to participate in competitive sports with our teammates and friends.”
PIANJ, NJYIP change of administration
PIANJ officers for the 2022-23 administration year were elected during the association’s annual business meeting, which was part of the Annual Conference. They are as follows: President: Thomas Wilkens, President-elect: Constance Mahoney, Vice President: Andrew Harris Jr., CIC, AAI, Vice President: Roger Butler, CIC, Secretary: Aaron Levine, CIC, Treasurer: Beth Frederickson, CPIA, and immediate past President: Michael DeStasio Jr., TRIP.
Daniel Tague was newly elected to serve on the board of directors for a three-year term expiring in 2025. The following individuals were re-elected to serve on the board for a three-year term, expiring in 2025: Thomas Wilkens, Lydia Bashwiner, Esq., CWCP, NJWCP, and Lisa Hamm, CIC.
Additionally, NJYIP elected its officers and directors its annual business meeting. The NJYIP officers installed were: President: Peter Leone. First Vice President: Tim Latimer. Second Vice President: Michael S. DeStasio. Treasurer: Josh McManigal. Secretary: Walter Conroy. Immediate past President: Alyssa Delaney. The following individuals will serve as directors: Walter Conroy, Stephanie Danzis, Alyssa Delaney, Michael S. DeStasio, Bart DiMattina, Lisa Glesias, CPIA, Lila Khiry, Tim Latimer, Peter Leone, Aaron Levine, CIC, Kaiti Loughlin and Josh McManigal.