2018 RIMS

RIMS Rocks San Antonio

Sexual harassment and the threats and opportunities in artificial intelligence will be on this year's RIMS agenda.
By: | March 5, 2018 • 6 min read

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the annual RIMS conference and exhibition taking place in San Antonio at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center from April 15 to 18.  The theme for this year’s show – “Go Big” – encourages risk managers to think outside the box, expand their relationships and strive to make a bigger impact in their companies and communities.

Advertisement




“It’s a call to action,” said Stuart Ruff-Lyon, vice president of events and education, RIMS. “How can you as a risk manager ‘go big’ in your organization and in your life? Our programming and design is meant to make attendees think about how they can make the most of this opportunity and apply what they learn to make a real difference.”

This year, the conference will provide attendees with a “journey journal” so they can take notes throughout sessions and meetings on how to apply takeaways to better themselves professionally and personally. They’ll have a lot to think about as the conference this year is focusing on topical issues like diversity and inclusion, sexual harassment, and disaster recovery and resiliency.

Diverse and Inclusive

“We’re starting to look at diversity and inclusion issues a lot more than we have in the past. I take these ideas very seriously as part of the overall experience we want to provide. Data tells us, and we can see for ourselves, how important diversity and inclusion are to our next generation of risk leaders,” Ruff-Lyon said.

Sunday afternoon will see the first ever “diversity inclusion meetup,” where participants can join small breakout groups and have discussions led by a professional facilitator around issues in diversity.

“It’s going to be a safe space for people to discuss sensitive issues and for allies who want more information,” Ruff-Lyon said. “We’ll see what comes out of the discussion and hopefully produce additional content or get new ideas on how we do things at the conference. We’re trying to chart a new course for RIMS, so we can be more diverse and inclusive.”

The selection of keynote speakers underscores a dedication to diversity in age, race and gender.

Opening speaker Alex Sheen, a millennial, reaches across generations with a message of honoring commitments. Sheen is the founder of “because I said I would,” a nonprofit that seeks to better humanity through making and keeping promises.

Stuart Ruff-Lyon, vice president of events and education, RIMS

“That’s a very powerful message that ties back into our goal to encourage risk professionals to follow through on what they learn here at the conference and apply it back home,” Ruff-Lyon said.

Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, the nation’s first African-American female fighter pilot, will speak at Monday afternoon’s awards luncheon about how to overcome internal obstacles and mental blocks to achieve greatness and exceed expectations.

“And Jay Leno is for laughs,” Ruff-Lyon said, speaking about the conference’s closing speaker. “It helps to lighten things up and finish on a high note when you’ve had an exhausting four days.”

And while keynote speeches are aimed at high-level messaging and motivation, this year’s educational sessions take deeper dives into the issues facing risk managers today.

Targeting Topical Issues

“We spent more time developing ‘hot topic’ ideas this year, trying to keep them topical and relevant. We have a session on sexual harassment in the workplace, for example. If you’re a risk manager that works for a company that faces a scandal, what do you do? This is a big issue facing every industry,” Ruff-Lyon said.

Some claims management sessions will also focus on the fallout from Harvey, Irma and Maria, and how organizations can proactively align resources to shorten recovery time and keep claims moving post-disaster.

“We’re still continuing to educate risk professionals about the impact of drones, driverless cars, etc. Artificial intelligence and robotics have been added to the lineup as well as they become more and more disruptive,” Ruff-Lyon said. “We always try to make sure that at least 30 percent of what people are seeing and experiencing is new to keep it interesting and different and fresh.”

RIMS relies on attendee feedback to inform session selection, as well as an independent scoring committee comprised of senior-level risk professionals from various industries. The committee reviews session proposals blind, with no knowledge of who submitted them or who the speakers will be. In addition to content quality, they focus on uniqueness.

Ruff-Lyon said the goal is to mix in new topics — or new angles on old topics — to spur creative thinking and provide a more well-rounded educational experience. In line with that goal, conference organizers this year added a new experience dubbed the “Innovation Hub.”

“I don’t think people are aware of all we do to protect attendees, but I think it will provide peace of mind to know that we are taking extra precautions.”— Stuart Ruff-Lyon, vice president of events and education, RIMS

“The Innovation Hub will feature 20-minute TED-style talks on different topics. Monday will focus on emerging risks, Tuesday will focus on claims management and Wednesday’s topic is cyber risk,” Ruff-Lyon said.

RIMS also revamped the experience for attendees visiting the exhibit hall. Now dubbed “RIMS HQ,” the area has doubled in size and comprises the Wellness Zenter, Thought Leader Theater, a publication stand, an opportunity to get a complimentary professional headshot, on-hand consultants ready to analyze résumés or LinkedIn profiles, and a quiet lounge reserved for members.

Advertisement




Oh, and puppies for stress relief.

“We’ve redesigned the entire experience inside the exhibit hall,” Ruff-Lyon said.

Safety and security will also be stepped up this year — one part of the experience that should be imperceptible to attendees.

“We are adding a lot of increased security measures around the event. We always have a police presence as well as plain-clothes officers, but in the past two years we’ve had bomb-sniffing dogs on our loading docks, and this year we added random wand and bag searches,” Ruff-Lyon said.

“I don’t think people are aware of all we do to protect attendees, but I think it will provide peace of mind to know that we are taking extra precautions.”

Things to Do

But not everything is new. Community service projects will take place throughout the show for those able to participate. One on-site opportunity includes assembling care packages for soldiers, veterans and their families, benefitting the charity Soldiers’ Angels.

The anticipated 10,000 to 11,000 attendees and exhibitors also have plenty to explore around San Antonio.

“It’s very walkable, very friendly,” Ruff-Lyon said. In addition to the iconic River Walk, the city also boasts scenic walking trails, a vibrant food scene, canal tours and the historic San Antonio Missions. &

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

High Net Worth

High Net Worth Clients Live in CAT Zones. Here’s What Their Resiliency Plan Should Include

Having a resiliency plan and practicing it can make all the difference in a disaster.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 7 min read

Packed with state-of-the-art electronics, priceless collections and high-end furnishings, and situated in scenic, often remote locations, the dwellings of high net worth individuals and families pose particular challenges when it comes to disaster resiliency. But help is on the way.

Advertisement




Armed with loss data, innovative new programs, technological advances, and a growing army of niche service-providers aimed at addressing an astonishingly diverse set of risks, insurers are increasingly determined to not just insure against their high net worth clients’ losses, but to prevent them.

Insurers have long been proactive in risk mitigation, but increasingly, after the recent surge in wildfire and storm losses, insureds are now, too.

“Before, insurance was considered the only step in risk management. Now, our client families realize it is one of the many imperative steps in an effective risk management strategy,” said Laura Sherman, founding partner at Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners.

And especially in the high net worth space, preventing that loss is vastly preferable to a payout, for insurers and insureds alike.

“If insurers can preserve even one house that’s 10 or 20 or 40 million dollars … whatever they have spent in a year is money well spent. Plus they’ve saved this important asset for the client,” said Bruce Gendelman, chairman and founder Bruce Gendelman Insurance Services.

High Net Worth Vulnerabilities

Laura Sherman, founding partner, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

As the number and size of luxury homes built in vulnerable areas has increased, so has the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events, including hurricanes, harsh cold and winter storms, and wildfires.

“There is a growing desire to inhabit this riskier terrain,” said Jason Metzger, SVP Risk Management, PURE group of insurance companies. “In the western states alone, a little over a million homes are highly vulnerable to wildfires because of their proximity to forests that are fuller of fuel than they have been in years past.”

Such homes are often filled with expensive artwork and collections, from fine wine to rare books to couture to automobiles, each presenting unique challenges. The homes themselves present other vulnerabilities.

“Larger, more sophisticated homes are bristling with more technology than ever,” said Stephen Poux, SVP and head of Risk Management Services and Loss Prevention for AIG’s Private Client Group.

“A lightning strike can trash every electronic in the home.”

Niche Service Providers

A variety of niche service providers are stepping forward to help.

Secure facilities provide hurricane-proof, wildfire-proof off-site storage for artwork, antiques, and all manner of collectibles for seasonal or rotating storage, as well as ahead of impending disasters.

Other companies help manage such collections — a substantial challenge anytime, but especially during a crisis.

“Knowing where it is, is a huge part of mitigating the risk,” said Eric Kahan, founder of Collector Systems, a cloud-based collection management company that allows collectors to monitor their collections during loans to museums, transit between homes, or evacuation to secure storage.

“Before, insurance was considered the only step in risk management. Now, our client families realize it is one of the many imperative steps in an effective risk management strategy.” — Laura Sherman, founding partner, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

Insurers also employ specialists in-house. AIG employs four art curators who advise clients on how to protect and preserve their art collections.

Perhaps the best known and most striking example of this kind of direct insurer involvement are the fire teams insurers retain or employ to monitor fires and even spray retardant or water on threatened properties.

High-Level Service for High Net Worth

All high net worth carriers have programs that leverage expertise, loss data, and relationships with vendors to help clients avoid and recover from losses, employing the highest levels of customer service to accomplish this as unobtrusively as possible.

“What allows you to do your job best is when you develop that relationship with a client, where it’s the same people that are interacting with them on every front for their risk management,” said Steve Bitterman, chief risk services officer for Vault Insurance.

Site visits are an essential first step, allowing insurers to assess risks, make recommendations to reduce them, and establish plans in the event of a disaster.

“When you’re in a catastrophic situation, it’s high stress, time is of the essence, and people forget things,” said Sherman. “Having a written plan in place is paramount to success.”

Advertisement




Another important component is knowing who will execute that plan in homes that are often unoccupied.

Domestic staff may lack the knowledge or authority to protect the homeowner’s assets, and during a disaster may be distracted dealing with threats to their own homes and families. Adequate planning includes ensuring that whoever is responsible has the training and authority to execute the plan.

Evaluating New Technology

Insurers use technologies like GPS and satellite imagery to determine which homes are directly threatened by storms or wildfires. They also assess and vet technologies that can be implemented by homeowners, from impact glass to alarm and monitoring systems, to more obscure but potentially more important options.

AIG’s Poux recommends two types of vents that mitigate important, and unexpected risks.

“There’s a fantastic technology called Smart Vent, which allows water to flow in and out of the foundation,” Poux said. “… The weight of water outside a foundation can push a foundation wall in. If you equalize that water inside and out at the same level, you negate that.”

Another wildfire risk — embers getting sucked into the attic — is, according to Poux, “typically the greatest cause of the destruction of homes.” But, he said, “Special ember-resisting venting, like Brandguard Vents, can remove that exposure altogether.”

Building Smart

Many disaster resiliency technologies can be applied at any time, but often the cost is fractional if implemented during initial construction. AIG’s Smart Build is a free program for new or remodeled homes that evolved out of AIG’s construction insurance programs.

Previously available only to homes valued at $5 million and up, Smart Build recently expanded to include homes of $1 million and up. Roughly 100 homes are enrolled, with an average value of $13 million.

“In the high net worth space, sometimes it takes longer potentially to recover, simply because there are limited contractors available to do specialty work.” — Curt Goetsch, head of underwriting, Private Client Group, Ironshore

“We know what goes wrong in high net worth homes,” said Poux, citing AIG’s decades of loss data.

“We’re incenting our client and by proxy their builder, their architects and their broker, to give us a seat at the design table. … That enables us to help tweak the architectural plans in ways that are very easy to do with a pencil, as opposed to after a home is built.”

Poux cites a remote ranch property in Texas.

Curt Goetsch, head of underwriting, Private Client Group, Ironshore

“The client was rebuilding a home but also installing new roads and grading and driveways. … The property was very far from the fire department and there wasn’t any available water on the property.”

Poux’s team was able to recommend underground water storage tanks, something that would have been prohibitively expensive after construction.

“But if the ground is open and you’ve got heavy equipment, it’s a relatively minor additional expense.”

Homes that graduate from the Smart Build program may be eligible for preferred pricing due to their added resilience, Poux said.

Recovery from Loss

A major component of disaster resiliency is still recovery from loss, and preparation is key to the prompt service expected by homeowners paying six- or seven-figure premiums.

Before Irma, PURE sent contact information for pre-assigned claim adjusters to insureds in the storm’s direct path.

“In the high net worth space, sometimes it takes longer potentially to recover, simply because there are limited contractors available to do specialty work,” said Curt Goetsch, head of underwriting for Ironshore’s Private Client Group.

Advertisement




“If you’ve got custom construction or imported materials in your house, you’re not going to go down the street and just find somebody that can do that kind of work, or has those materials in stock.”

In the wake of disaster, even basic services can be scarce.

“Our claims and risk management departments have to work together in advance of the storm,” said Bitterman, “to have contractors and restoration companies and tarp and board services that are going to respond to our company’s clients, that will commit resources to us.”

And while local agents’ connections can be invaluable, Goetsch sees insurers taking more of that responsibility from the agent, to at least get the claim started.

“When there is a disaster, the agency’s staff may have to deal with personal losses,” Goetsch said. &

Jon McGoran is a novelist and magazine editor based outside of Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected]