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UM Insurance Symposium Celebrates Another Year of Success

Former Gov. Haley Barbour discusses economic development and vocational education in his keynote address for the 23rd annual UM Insurance Symposium at The Inn at Ole Miss. UM photo by Stella Connell
Industry changes, ethical dilemmas and cyber insurance were just a few of the topics tackled at the University of Mississippi’s 23rd annual Insurance Symposium.
The event, hosted by the UM School of Business Administration and its risk management and insurance program, was March 21-22 at The Inn at Ole Miss.
Former Gov. Haley Barbour delivered the keynote address, covering topics such as economic development and vocational education on the second day of the gathering.
“It’s the No. 1 job of the state government to give our people a good education,” Barbour said. “We need better workforce training.
“Education has to become more inclusive and understanding. You have to have people who can operate equipment to help others meet their needs.”
Barbour also discussed the need for economic growth and tort reform in Mississippi.
Ken Cyree, business school dean, said he is pleased with the symposium’s impact on the university and the surrounding community.
“We are proud of the impact that our RMI program has had with our students, industry and academic profession,” Cyree said. “The symposium is a wonderful venue to connect our students to industry leaders and our alumni to learn the latest trends, opportunities and challenges in the industry.”
“Our job is to make people’s lives more resilient,” said Michael McGavick, CEO of XL Group and one of the presenters. His message focused on people being underinsured, using Manhattan as an example during Hurricane Sandy because only 50 percent of residents were insured.
McGavick encouraged attendees to try to correct the issue of people and businesses being underinsured.
Lance Ewing, executive vice president of Global Risk Management with Cotton Holdings Inc. and the incoming chair of the UM Risk Management and Insurance Advisory Board, addressed business ethics in the industry.
“You have to have ground rules for how your company operates,” Ewing said. Companies often will test employees by “throwing you in the deep end of the pool and hope you swim” to reward employees who work with honesty and integrity, he said.
Joshua Gold, shareholder with Anderson Kill P.C., discussed the rapidly evolving technological standards of cyber insurance. He also stressed the importance of understanding laws governing the industry and having a response team in place.
Some businesses can go 200 days or more before realizing their data has been compromised, Gold said.
“If you’re not following the rules of the industry, you’re at risk of getting sued,” he said.
Charles Westmoreland, a sales consultant with Allstate Benefits, covered the importance and basic principles of employee benefits. Westmoreland discussed significant events, beginning in the 1930s, that helped define the varying types of benefits available to employees.
He also addressed how Medicare and Medicaid affect health care and state budgets.
“The biggest item in health care is the cost shift from Medicare and Medicaid to private insurance,” Westmoreland said. “Medicaid is eating up most state budgets.”
Lisa Davis, executive vice president of Sompo Global Risk Solutions and president of JIA Business, addressed challenges affecting insurance and the ever-evolving industry. She discussed the importance of being innovative and how organizations that tap into the motivations of human behavior and design their customer experience accordingly will be the next industry leaders.
“You can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow,” Davis said.
Moderator Joel Wood, senior vice president for government affairs with the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, discussed the implications for the insurance industry following the second year of Trump’s presidency.
“Eighty million Americans received their insurance through their employer,” Wood said. “The No. 1 tax expenditure in the U.S. tax code is the exclusion from health insurance. We have problems from the left and the right,” he concluded.
Andre Liebenberg, associate professor of finance and the university’s Gwenette P. and Jack W. Robertson Chair of Insurance, praised the Ole Miss Insurance Advisory Board for developing this year’s program.
“We are proud to host over 200 industry guests on our beautiful campus and to showcase our nationally ranked program and, more generally, our exceptional university and town,” Liebenberg said. “In addition to being our largest fundraiser, the symposium provides us an opportunity to serve the industry by providing continuing education.”

By Leigh Campbell
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