CONFERENCE EMPHASIZES "QUALITY AND CHANGE'

CONFERENCE EMPHASIZES "QUALITY AND CHANGE'

Each year for 64 years, some of the nation's largest insurance carriers and their biggest producers have descended upon the green hills of the famed Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., to discuss issues of mutual concern, smack some golf balls and cement their relationships.

This year is no different. Approximately 1,300 insurance executives and independent agents are expected to attend the joint annual meetings of the National Association of Casualty and Surety Executives (Nacse), which represents insurance companies, and the National Association of Casualty and Surety Agents (Nacsa), which represents insurance producers.Once again, Greenbrier is the setting for a series of speeches, seminars and panel sessions scheduled by the groups during their joint meeting, which began Sunday and will run through Wednesday.

The highlight of the four-day convention is the name change of the agents' group to the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, said Ann Bulcao, director of member services for Nacsa.

The name change reflects the wider array of products and services offered by Nacsa's membership, she said.

Behind closed doors, however, agents and their carriers will be

discussing the new health reform package introduced by President Clinton, reinsurance unavailability problems in the property insurance area and the ongoing concerns over environmental liability issues, according to representatives from both groups.

The theme of this year's meeting is "quality and change," Ms. Bulcao said.

"Attendees will be asked to examine the quality of products and service that we provide as an insurance industry and how we can improve quality control," Ms. Bulcao said. "At the same time, we will seek to examine many of the changes that are in store for the industry, from the president's health reforms to potential regulatory changes, the free-trade agreement with Mexico, global market changes, and so on."

While attendees don't necessarily conduct business during the meeting, they seek to strengthen the carrier-agency relationship, Ms. Bulcao said.

"We try to examine how both parts of the industry can better work together to ensure that the distribution system will remain efficient, responsible and, most importantly, viable in the future," she said.

Lawrence M. Zippin, executive director of Nacse, agreed.

"Both groups discuss how to best maintain our competitive edge over direct writers of insurance," he said.

Mr. Zippin said that the evolutionary changes gripping the insurance industry present a host of subjects meriting discussion.

"In an age of massive hurricanes, reinsurance unavailability and regulatory scrutiny, frankly, there are no shortage of subjects to cover," he said.

Several speeches, panel sessions and seminars are scheduled for the meeting. Presidents of both organizations were expected to open the meeting today by giving their perspectives on the state of the industry. Nacse President Dean R. O'Hare, chairman of Chubb & Son Inc., and Nacsa President J. Bransford Wallace, chairman of Willis Corroon, present their views.

Later today, Mary Matalin, former deputy campaign manager for President George Bush, will provide an insider's look at Washington.