ITC Vegas is one of the largest conferences in the insurance industry, boasting over 9,000 attendees and 500+ sponsors. As a young marketing professional who had never traveled for business before, attended a conference, and certainly never sponsored one, I had a vague idea of what to expect. As soon as I arrived at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, my expectations were exceeded.
There were forklifts whirring around, honking horns, carrying pallets, boxes, and shipping containers. The size of the expo hall, the number of booths, and the sheer size of booths were greater than I had anticipated. With over 9,000 people to network with and learn from, this was going to be a valuable experience for me.
Top Insurance Topics
To find what current topics people are discussing in the industry, I went to 10 speaking events. A few topics consistently came up:
Though not always the main focus, generative AI came up in almost every single event I attended. Panelists discussed its general uses, such as auto-populating forms, chat bots, predictive analytics, automation tools, as well as content creation for marketing and more. An interesting use we may see soon involves image recognition models. For example, in home insurance, the homeowner can take a photo of their roof and AI will scan it to determine roof damage.
AI cannot be implemented without checks and balances, though. While AI can be a highly accurate tool, underwriting or policy creations must still be reviewed for errors. Panelists pressed the need to build your own AI models rather than use an “off the shelf” product to fit your company’s unique goals and avoid bias.
One of the stand-out panels I attended spoke to emerging threats and catastrophic risk. According to the panelists, cybersecurity is the #1 threat customers are currently worried about. Cybersecurity’s risk is so great because it doesn’t just affect one person. If one person’s information is exposed, it can connect to others and have a much larger impact.
Environmental factors, such as climate change, were ranked as threat #2. Due to climate change, there has been an increase in fires, hurricanes and floods throughout the country, which can affect P&C and life insurance. Privacy was another concern. As the insurance industry leverages more personal data from customers, they must consider: How much personal data is too much, and what could the customer deem invasive?
To address these emerging risks, insurers are doing research to find the customers that need coverage and new ways to insure digital property. This includes locating properties that may be affected by rising sea levels or determining the insurable value of information lost in cybersecurity attacks. Insurance is also focusing on the mutual benefit of people living safe and healthy lives. Decreased risk is positive for customers as well as insurers, and some life insurers have started rewarding their customers for making healthy choices that will extend their lives.
Topics to Anticipate in 2024
How can insurers further impact people’s lives for the better? Personalization. A speaker at a panel regarding the impact of data transformation posited that personalization will be the next focus of the industry. The relationship between the agent and customer has always been important and must continue to be nurtured, especially as AI is integrated into the industry. Insurers need to examine the right time to automate with AI with quality human contact to improve the customer experience.
Panelists also stressed and will likely continue to stress general innovation. Many of the events, including one from Gary Vaynerchuk, brought home the point that insurance needs to innovate and be ahead of the curve now more than ever. A presentation by Salesforce showed that 62% of customers expect companies to anticipate their needs. The insurance industry must drop its laggard disposition and leverage all new technology to succeed.
On the Expo Floor
In the sponsor hall, vendors were holding raffles, offering snacks, drinks, and plenty of company swag. Networking and meetings could be held at the center of the expo floor, and for a more intimate meeting space, sponsors could rent a meeting pod in a quieter area towards the back of the expo hall. Company demos were done throughout the day at the expo stage. At the end of each day, sponsors and delegates could unwind and mingle at the reception and networking happy hour.
ITC 2023 was anything but boring. In the expo hall, you could play skee-ball in the arcade area, play with puppies, watch a magic show — you could even ring a bell, and a gloved hand would reach through the wall and hand you a glass of champagne. Out of everything I saw at the conference, I was surprised the most by these fun activities. It blended the line between work and play, which was refreshing to see.
From what I saw at ITC and what I’ve heard from frequent conference attendees, conferences are becoming more casual in dress and presentation. By being more “casual,” people can speak naturally, find unique ways to present their organization, and form more memorable and valuable connections. Our booth had a gym theme with coordinating swag and outfits. Our shirts and matching orange shoes really caught people’s eyes! Other companies featured interactive activities like a “test your strength” game and live screen printing to keep people engaged.
Overall, ITC Vegas 2023 was a success. There was a good turn out, and we had some great conversations. The speaking events had great panelists and relevant topics. I had fun and learned a lot about the industry — I’m excited to see how the industry changes before ITC 2024!