NAMIC’s 118th Annual Convention was officially kicked off this morning by Board Chairman Jerry Zenke and NAMIC President and CEO Chuck Chamness.
In his welcoming address, Zenke looked back over his years of involvement with NAMIC and the chairmen who have led the association. “I have to tell you I never saw myself as chairman material,” the manager of Mound Prairie Mutual Insurance Company in Houston, Minn., said. “While I know that I cannot justify the addition of my name to the list of past chairmen and chairwoman, I thought the least I can do is honor them here.”
Zenke expressed his appreciation to the many volunteers who donate their time to ensure the success of not only NAMIC but the state insurance associations as well. “[W]e have excellent staffs and leaders at NAMIC and in our state associations, but we also have hundreds of dedicated volunteers who help keep it all going. Folks who give of their time and talents freely because they believe in what we do and they believe in serving our fellow man. They believe in mutuality,” he said to applause.
Zenke’s term ends Sept. 25, when he hands the chairman’s gavel to the 2013-2014 NAMIC Chairman John Bishop, who recently retired as president and CEO of Motorists Insurance Group in Columbus, Ohio.
In his welcome to delegates to the convention, Chamness gave a “different year, same challenges” overview of the world of property/casualty insurance. Reminding the audience of the trials and tribulations experienced by the industry after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Chamness recalled when an influential Republican member of the United States Senate called him and threatened to put our industry out of business. He said he would “bring down … the industry through all means available, including using punitive federal legislation.” A McCarran-Ferguson repeal effort followed, and all hands were on deck as NAMIC defended its members and successfully beat back the effort.
Chamness jumped forward seven years to the present, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s proposed rule on disparate impact onto insurers. HUD’s rule would allow regulators to charge discrimination merely by showing that a protected class has been discriminated against – with or without intent – when applying for home loans. It looked as if insurers, too, would have to endure the rule as part of their underwriting process.
“At issue is the fundamental principle of insurance that different consumers, with different risks, should pay different rates for insurance based only on their risks,” Chamness told the convention delegates. “This basic premise of insurance is what we have all known. It’s fair, it’s competitive, and it’s how our industry has worked so well, for so many years, for you and your policyholders.”
That is why, he said, “NAMIC’s board authorized on your behalf our participation in a federal lawsuit to stop the proposed rule from taking effect,” Chamness explained. “It [the board] did so fully recognizing the serious consequences to your future if HUD is allowed to prevail: the imposition of de facto racial quotas by insurers, or risk numerous and costly lawsuits.”
During his remarks, he also highlighted other services and products the association makes available to its membership, including the association’s newest offering: D.rive, a partnership between NAMIC and Deloitte to provide a telematics solution for association members that write auto insurance.
“Whether it’s advocacy or providing you value-added benefits, we know you are counting on us,” Chamness said. “Because more is expected of us and because so much depends on us, we know that we have to get it right.”