Industry Claims Conference Keeps up with Changes

By Denise Johnson | March 23, 2016

Going for Gold was the theme of the annual Combined Claims Conference held in Orange County, California, earlier this month.

The theme was selected, according to Caryn Siebert, conference chairperson, because “claims professionals are really the champions of the insurance industry.”

Siebert, who is also vice president and head of claims for Knight Insurance Group, said that more than 1000 claims professionals attended this year’s conference which offered a variety of sessions on four specific educational tracks: property, liability, special investigations (SIU) and workers’ compensation.

With the aid of 96 exhibitors and sponsors, 300 paid scholarships were offered to attendees.

The conference began 28 years ago, the result of a demonstrated need for claims education at a time when it appeared to be lacking. It began as a forum with just 25 people in attendance. When Siebert came on board, there were about 230 attendees and the conference offered three tracks of education for adjusters handling property, liability and SIU claims. Three years ago, the conference widened the curriculum to include a workers’ compensation track as well.

Mark McClain, conference treasurer, explained that in the 1990’s, a steering committee would meet every two to three months to plan the conference. As the conference grew, a management company was hired to help with logistics and conference planning meetings now occur via conference calls.

The program has always strived to be cutting edge, said McClain. “We start throwing out topics at the beginning, trying to think what’s going to be the thing people want to hear a year from now.”

Disaster Simulation at the 28th Annual Combined Claims Conference.
Disaster Simulation at the 28th Annual Combined Claims Conference.

The organizers also begin and end the conference with memorable general sessions. This year, a simulated disaster scenario played out in the hotel ballroom. Attendees had to work together in small teams in order to successfully escape danger. Highlights from past years include an accelerant detection dog demonstration and a hair-raising session on electricity.

This year’s conference included sessions on laws related to the ride and home-sharing economy, making the most of initial contacts, deceit and fraud detection strategies, drone coverage and liability issues and a workers’ comp case law update.

Next year’s conference is set for March 7 and 8, 2017.

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