By STEVE YAHN, who has written for and edited national publications for more than 25 years
In 1998, a handful of insurance industry officials involved in the esoteric world of contingency business met in Dallas to play golf and informally discuss matters of common interest.
Today, that loosely knit group of golf partners has become the core of the nearly 200-member North American Contingency Association (NACA), an organization that is worldwide in scope and has expanded into entertainment areas well beyond the niche world of contingency insurance.
In short, from its humble, 18-hole beginnings, NACA has become a who's who of the contingency realm and beyond.
At its heart, the contingency industry association itself remains a specialized group of individuals who deal with insurance products that usually fall outside of the more easily recognized property, marine, casualty and financial services departments of most companies. Contingency products include nonappearance, cancellation, transmission failure, prize indemnity, contract bonus, weather, death and disgrace, redemption and many other recondite coverages.
According to NACA, probably the broadest class of contingency business coverage allows clients to insure cash prizes and give away products to their customers through creative promotions.
Cognizant of the widening scope of the interests of NACA members, the current leadership of the Glendale, CA-based non-profit organization is looking at ways to reach outside of practitioners in its industry to persons at companies served by contingency businesses so that NACA members can better understand the needs of insureds as well as their products.
This includes risk managers and people who run the promotions and prize indemnity contests. Take someone who runs a sports channel and is putting on one of those million-dollar basketball shots. Or someone from an amusement park or a theme park.
Of NACA's annual meeting held this past spring in Orlando, FL, LeConte Moore, managing director and a leading contingency broker at New York-based DeWitt Stern, said: "I walked into the reception and I said, 'Oh my gosh.' Every underwriter in the world that was in the contingency business was there."
Added Moore: "I would make a prediction that in the next few years you will start seeing more risk managers showing up at the NACA annual meeting because that's where all their underwriters are going. You can go to one city for two days and have a meeting with all the underwriters to which you need to talk."
Some of the panel subjects at the annual meeting in Orlando this spring were: a doctor's place in an underwriter's world; online dating and more--LOL!; emerging new world of distribution; and risk and insurance around large events.
Nellie Lindner, vice president of sports, film and entertainment at insurance brokerage BFL Canada based in Montreal, stressed the value of NACA as a worldwide organization.
"NACA has transformed itself and become the entertainment melting pot. It's not just contingency anymore. It has replaced much of the RIMS entertainment group," added Lindner, a past president of the organization.
In fact, one of the inspirations for formalizing NACA, according to Ian Galloway, claims manager at Bermuda-domiciled holding company OneBeacon Insurance Group and recent co-president of NACA, was that people in the contingency business had historically been lost in the entertainment group of the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS).
"Our members were very specialized," said Galloway. "We all played in the entertainment area and we all knew each other through RIMS, but we didn't really have our own standing."
Galloway, who was one of the original golfers in Dallas, noted that, when NACA was founded, it was similar to a group in London that had been around for a number of years.
Another founding member of NACA, Howard Diamant, an adjuster at London-based Focus International, said: "My work and that of a number of my colleagues was based in the United States, and I decided that it would be interesting to see whether or not a similar type of society could be formed in the United States. After the initial golf event in Dallas, we agreed that we would continue to meet once a year.
"The people who are engaged in the contingency business gather from all parts of the United States and Canada and the annual event now attracts people from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, etc.," he said.
Diamant added that golf--in the form of a tournament at the annual meeting--is still a part of NACA. The event tends to take place every year either in Florida or California.
Perhaps more than anything, observed Martin Ridgers, a New York-based contingency expert and one of the founders of NACA, the group "provides legitimacy to the contingency class of business, rather than it sort of being out there and created on a whim.
"When you do that you have to define what contingency means. It doesn't mean you can't extend that definition, as NACA has been doing, but it basically gives contingency a defined term. So in many ways, it's like if you build it, they will come," he said.
July 1, 2011
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