065 – Best Insurance Conferences of 2019 (So Far)

BEST INSURANCE CONFERENCES OF 2019 (SO FAR) – EPISODE 65

In this episode of The Digital Broker, Ryan Deeds talks about what he’s learned at the many insurance conferences he’s been to in the first half of 2019. By listening to this episode, you will learn:

  • What Ryan heard and saw at three of the biggest insurance conferences this year: Elevate, Accelerate, and Dig|In
  • Which technologies and products stood out to him at every show

Insurance agencies are struggling with an identity crisis, trying to figure out how to stay relevant in the 21st century. Insurance conferences can lend a great deal of context, but when they are too numerous, it is difficult to select which ones to go to. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone went to every insurance conference and gave you a recap afterward? Enter Ryan Deeds.

As the Vice President of Technology and Data Management for Assurex Global, he is expected to go to every insurance conference or close to it. Part of Ryan’s job is to be on top of technological trends, which sees him traveling to a succession of insurance conferences where tech entrepreneurs are known to showcase their wares. Generally, Ryan’s clout gets him even farther than most attendees; he routinely sits in on private meetings where important issues are discussed in greater depth.

It’s about time he shares some of those exclusive insights with us. We don’t have time to cover every conference he has been to this year alone, but we can start with the three insurance conferences that have been on most people’s minds and calendars.

A primary theme at Elevate (2:33) is digital marketing, so you tend to see a lot of young people there, making for a fun, high-energy environment. Elevate caters to smaller, independent agencies—a $5 million book would be considered big there. But don’t let that deceive you into diminishing Elevate’s importance. Bigger agencies go to Elevate to learn from small ones. It is sometimes assumed that only big agencies are capable of serious innovation, but that’s not true. Smaller agencies have limited resources to solve otherwise serious problems, but that forces them to be more creative. Elevate is where they go to report on their success stories.

Accelerate, Powered by NetVU (7:30), is different from most other insurance conferences in that it is vendor-specific, NetVU standing for Network of Vertafore Users. Much of the talk at Accelerate is therefore about Vertafore products and affiliated issues, but this does not make for a less interesting conference. For one thing, Accelerate is notoriously fun. Moreover, if you’re a Vertafore user, Accelerate is a must-go. It is not often that you get to talk directly with the makers of your agency management system, and if there’s one thing that insurance agencies need help with, it is how to leverage software more effectively. But to get that value out of Accelerate, you need to go in there prepared. Make a list of your top five soul-sucking tasks, the things you know to be keeping your agency from being as efficient and effective as possible, and be ready to discuss them at Accelerate with people who are willing to listen and advise.

Dig|In (12:40) stands for Digital Insurance. As you might expect, it is a conference about insurance technology, but unlike Elevate and Accelerate, it caters to carriers. Because of this, there is more money behind it, and it shows. Dig|In is like a rock concert: star speakers, special effects, and palpable energy. Devices you would not ordinarily see at other shows—bots, drones, etc.—roam freely at Dig|In. But this year’s most coveted technologies were artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Every carrier wants to do a better job with data, and you’d be astonished at how some companies are leveraging AI technology to assess risk in unprecedented ways. Agencies avoid carrier-centric shows like Dig|In, but they shouldn’t. Every agency is responsible for setting its own value proposition, and although those propositions will differ, it is unlikely that insurance agencies will cease to be portals to carriers in the 21st century. Therefore, it is critical to know what the carriers are investing in.

You might have noticed that some conferences, like Applied Net and InsureTech Connect, are absent. That’s because they haven’t happened yet this year. When they do, you can expect to see Ryan there. Other conferences are also worth going to, but even Ryan cannot go to all of them, and if he did, he would probably miss some things other attendees wouldn’t. A better way would be for attendees of various conferences to keep each other updated about where they go and what they see, growing a collective knowledge. That is what we’d like to do with the Digital Broker LinkedIn group. If there are conferences you went to and enjoyed, please request to join the group and tell us about them. Maybe Ryan will add them to his calendar and see you there next year.



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