Two For One: Thoughts on Combining the Commercial Lines and Personal Lines Seminars in 2021

Underwriting professionals from the commercial lines and personal lines spaces will soon meet in Chicago and virtually for the combined Commercial and Personal Lines Seminar. Because this is the first time NAMIC has incorporated the two events into one, we asked the chairs of both committees – Sam Kiley, commercial lines product manager from West Bend Mutual Insurance Company, and Andrew Johnson, personal lines manager for Merchants Mutual Insurance Company – to share thoughts on the planning process and their excitement for the event.

 Q: The Commercial Lines Seminar was one of two events in 2020 that we were able to hold in person. What was the sentiments of the committee last year knowing that CL was completed so soon before the country went on lockdown?

SK: We felt truly fortunate to have held the Commercial Lines Seminar prior to the lockdown. With all the advance planning that goes into the event, it was great to be able to see the fruits of our labor and provide our members with a great experience.

Q: The Personal Lines Seminar was one of the first NAMIC events to be postponed in 2020. What was it like for you and the rest of the committee having to put the event on hold and pivot to an all-virtual event?

AJ: I think it was a relief to be honest, at least it was for me. With all the uncertainty surrounding COVID, it was good to know that our seminar would not require any travel.

Q: Will you be attending the seminar in person or virtually? Any particular reason you came to that decision?

AJ: I have not yet been given permission from my company to travel and may not be able to until Q4 2021, so I will be attending virtually.

SK: I will be attending the event virtually this year. I made a promise to my sister a few years ago that we’d celebrate her 40th birthday in style. We’re going to Lake Geneva just after the conference to have a fun sister getaway weekend.

Q: The Commercial Lines and Personal Lines seminars are combined this year. How did that decision come about?

SK: As we were approaching the originally planned Commercial Lines Seminar event date, we knew an in-person meeting wouldn’t be an option and we really wanted to offer that to members. When NAMIC staff approached the committee about combining the two seminars for a summer event date, we felt it would be a great opportunity to not only meet in person but try something new.

Q: Were the planning sessions different because of the combined event?

AJ: Only the last planning session was different, but that was more to go over the virtual seminar website and not content.

SK: Our planning session game plan didn’t change. We wanted to continue our commitment to offering quality educational topics impacting the commercial lines segment of our industry. What’s great is that some of the topics organically fit, like many of the emerging issues that both personal lines and commercial lines professionals face.

Q: What are you most looking forward to regarding the combined event?

AJ: I am looking forward to hearing Allie Feakins from present on online auto quoting.  

SK: Building connections across the personal and commercial spaces. There is much we can learn from each other, especially in the rating/platform space. The more we expose ourselves to different perspectives, the greater chance to spark creative thinking and innovation.

Q: Which session is your No.1 priority session? Why?

AJ: I always look forward to hearing Jimi Grande speak on political developments in the insurance industry.

SK: To be honest, there are quite a few I’m really excited to attend but if I HAD to pick… I’d say it’s “Artificial Intelligence – Efficiency Gains for the Underwriter.” Any time I can learn new ways to allow the underwriting staff to focus on what really needs their attention, it’s a win. Not only because it’s more fun to underwrite this way, but because it strengthens their relationships with our agency force as they can demonstrate their knowledge and expertise on tougher exposures. 

Q: What words of wisdom/advice do you have for people who might not have attended one of NAMIC’s underwriting events before?

AJ: Take advantage of networking opportunities. Don’t be shy to just go up to a fellow attendee and strike up a conversation.

SK: My advice would be to enjoy the opportunity to network and meet so many fun and engaging people. I’ve gained countless connections from attending the conference, and I have a number of people I can reach out to throughout the year on emerging issues, weather trends, the state regulatory environment, etc.

Article Posted: 07.15.21
Last Updated: 07.21.21


Lindsay Robison
Content Manager and Editor