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MSU’s annual Insurance Day set for March 29

Starkville — Insurance professionals attending the 19th-annual Insurance Day at Mississippi State University (MSU) will earn six hours of continuing education while becoming more informed about current industry topics. The day of learning is March 29 at the Bost Conference Center on the Starkville campus. Social activities begin March 28 with a golf tournament, lunch and program for spouses, reception and barbecue at Dudy Noble Field before the MSU baseball game. Some 500 insurance agents, insurance company representatives, attorneys and students attended last year.

“With so many things going on with insurance in Mississippi and the tremendous group of speakers we have lined up, everyone working in insurance should attend,” said Ed Duett, professor of finance and the Lutken Chair of Insurance at MSU. “It’s hard to find another program of this quality in one session. Some trade associations have continuing education programs but not like this one.”

He says there are a variety of topics of importance in risk management and participants will definitely get their money’s worth. That’s his selling point. “We try to be current, and this year Katrina and claims are a big part of it,” he said. “We get good speakers from all over to be on the program and use local talent, too. We started lining them up in September.”

There is no test for the session, but organizers do keep up with attendance and report to the State Insurance Department for participants to receive continuing education credit. The session will begin with a panel discussion by Commissioner of Insurance George Dale and insurance directors from the states of South Carolina and Idaho.

One of the main speakers is Marc Racicot, president of the American Insurance Association and two-term governor of Montana. “It is particularly critical for insurance industry professionals — both on the company and producer sides of the transaction — to remain current with respect to the substance and proper boundaries of their products and services,” he said. “Agents and companies depend heavily on them for keen insights and sound judgment. Continual expansion of a producer’s knowledge base is critical to a well-functioning industry that serves the interests of all stakeholders.”

Other speakers include Tony Pavia, president of AIG Agency Auto; Bill Bailey, special counsel for the Insurance Information Institute; Carneal Chambliss, market development manager for MetLife; and Henry Furtick, regional vice president of select accounts for St. Paul Travelers.

Lessons from Hurricane Katrina heads the list of topics for this year’s program. “It’s a huge topic. There’s no way not to discuss it,” Duett said. “It affected a lot of people, and there are many issues out there, including litigation by the state attorney general.”

Other topics for the program include health insurance, legislative update, pricing trends in insurance markets, impact of catastrophes, business continuity, issues in financial services and life insurance.

“The past few Insurance Days have been well attended and it’s growing,” Duett said. “Pre-registrations now are close to 200, and we will get a lot of last minute registrations, plus the students.”

He said a good group of industry professionals formed a committee to organize and promote the program. Insurance Day was begun as an outreach activity for students to interact with professionals in the state.

Student activity has grown at MSU where the insurance program is now one of the largest in the country. There are 150 majors in the program that includes risk management, claims and underwriting. There are three full-time and two adjunct faculty members in the department.

“We’ve taken an active approach to let students know there are opportunities in the insurance field; that it’s not just sales,” he added.

Racicot of the American Insurance Association says continuing education is essential to the very nature of the insurance business, which is based on detailed analyses and delicate balancing of risk, the law and finance.

“Because all of these components change, and can change rapidly and drastically, the stakes are tremendous for both personal and commercial lines,” he said. “Continuing education is the key to understanding how change affects operations, and how to ensure operations endure change.”

Duett, who’s participated in five Insurance Day programs, says Mississippi is a small state but has big things going on with insurance. Asked why that is, he replied, “That’s a good question. The judicial system was in the news for a while and now we have a lot going on with Katrina.”

As discussions are held at this year’s program, he says health insurance is always a good topic due to the rising costs. A panel will look at different ways to control costs.

Another price update will center on home insurance in the wake of the hurricane. He thinks the legislative update will not be as big an item on the program this year.

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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