Supply Chain Disruption & Risk: Recapping the Annual IMUA Conference
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the Inland Marine Underwriters Association (IMUA) annual conference held in Leesburg, Virginia. IMUA’s President Kevin O’Brien always looks for areas that will push the envelope and bring top-flight presenters to the table, and as such, this event is always a high energy, wide net, and cutting-edge. The conference is also packed with great deal of information compressed into two days, with ample time to connect with senior leaders and old friends.
The event ran from Saturday evening, May 18th through Tuesday evening, May 21, and the agenda touched on key callouts in the insurance space as well as what multi-markets are collectively working on. While the conference was geared towards insurance topics, my participation was primarily as a panel member in a discussion focused on supply chain disruption and relative implications.
The conference commenced with Saturday night’s traditional invitation-only board meeting/dinner, followed by the arrival of other attendees. Throughout the event, there were numerous activities designed to welcome and bring the 400+ guests together, including Sunday’s welcome reception and buffet dinner; a chance to play golf; participation in Rise Against Hunger, where thousands of meals were prepared to ship; and a visit to the Air and Space Museum.
Tuesday was show time for us as we started the day with a packed house of attendees. On stage with me was Scott Brown, National Cargo Bureau; Ken Travers, AIG; and most noticeably our moderator Rich Soja, North American Head of Marine/Global Head of Inland Marine with Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty—a highly respected and seasoned insurance practice leader. We covered the complexity of supply chain operations and ensured there was a solid understanding of the black spaces inherent in supply chains as well. We dove into a somewhat detailed food and beverage example of the value chain, risks within the value chain, and current efforts by the private and public sectors to mediate multiple risk factors—including covering risk management best practices. We also went through a fairly comprehensive list of “the good, the bad, and the ugly” with respect to supply chain transportation risk technology.
Throughout the almost two-hour presentation, we ran multiple polls to ensure our audience was engaged with clarity on some of the key points covered—and we noted that approximately 40-50% of the audience was correct on the polls. Here are the poll questions (actual answers are at the bottom of this post):
An IMUA member company recently polled 2,415 insurance experts (mainly risk managers) in 86 countries on their top concerns for the year. Where did “business interruption, including supply chain disruption” rank in the top ten?
By closing with emerging trends and a layered Q&A session, our goal was to deliver a few “a-ha moments,” as well as provide some calls to action for our guests. Based on the copious note taking that I observed from the attendees, I believe were able to deliver on those objectives.
One of the key “a-ha” moments was during our discussion about the various data-rich areas and where they are housed with their potential clients. With the increased use of innovative technologies such as blockchain, 3D scanners, and sensor integration, the visibility, security, governance, accuracy, and management of supply chain data is more critical now than ever before. Click here to review our presentation collateral.
A good example of one of our calls to action is our point that insurance companies need to move toward a more collaborative approach when dealing with their clients, and retailers must drive more internal partnership between their loss control and transportation teams. By having the insurance company visit a retailer and request to not only speak with the retailer’s Risk Management Insurance Manager but also ask for the Loss Prevention Manager, Transportation Manager, Distribution Manager, and a legal representative, the insurance provider can provide concrete advice that will drive cross-functional understanding of supply chain and other operational risks to create a better solution and a final product that will be mutually benefiting for all. Essentially, the onus is on both the insurance company and the retailer to take precautions and implement practices to decrease their risk exposure across the entire retail operation—this ultimately results in lower insurance company payouts and decreased insurance premiums for the retailer.
Overall, IMUA did a fantastic job coordinating the event by also providing a mobile app (attendeehub) created for the participants. Attendees could not only ensure they were heading to the right session, but they could follow up with additional questions for the speakers, add pictures, notes, and reminders, bookmark items for future reference, and score the presentations. For our panel discussion, we were pleased to score 4.5 out of 5 stars, and we also received constructive, positive feedback on our session.
The balance of the day ran rather quickly with multiple sessions competing with one another covering equipment insurance, builders’ risk, and transportation insurance; the day closed out with discussions around emerging trends with a hyper focus on climate change and natural catastrophes.
In my opinion, the insurance space is one that is untapped by retailers and other verticals. The wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and its data-rich environment is ripe to lead and teach us quite a few things—essentially underpinning the fact that quite often, we truly “don’t know what we don’t know.”
When we prepare for next year’s event, I am sure it will once again be an encyclopedia of information in the palm of our hands. If you have any questions about supply chain risks, processes, or technologies, please don’t hesitate to reach out.