India is a developing market in terms of Life Insurance and in its 56 year history (post nationalization), there has been hardly any organized approach or any specific focus towards upliftment of underwriting as a profession. Historically in India, it has been managed by the Actuarial function, the Medical Referees and very experienced chosen few underwriters. Due to this scarcity of people with the requisite information, the subject of underwriting being a technical profession has always raised eyebrows in certain quarters. However with the opening up of the Life Insurance market in India, and the advent of companies that have been successfully running this business for over 100 years, Underwriting was again in the fore-front as a function that is one of the main contributors to mortality profits and to the success of any new product launched in the market.
The Association of Insurance Underwriters (AIU) is the result of collective and consistent efforts of a group of underwriting professionals from various Life Insurance & Reinsurance companies operating in India. The primary objective of AIU is to popularize the art and science of underwriting as a profession in India, wherein more and more underwriters across all levels of expertise will get trained and get an exposure to a world view. Over time, AIU Founder Members believe that educational up-gradation of underwriters will help guide more companies and business partners to follow the prudent way of doing Insurance business in India resulting in sustained mortality profits for promoters. AIU is dedicated to the cause of an underwriting aspirant meet his/her long-term aspiration and professional goals by providing them the requisite platform to discover new developments in science and engage in active knowledge sharing with underwriters and risk management professionals from within India and abroad.
“A thousand mile journey begins with the first step” ~Anonymous
AIU was initially set up in 2006 as a discussion group and the Founder Members felt the need of a similar forum to reach out to the vast Indian Underwriting fraternity where so many enthusiastic professionals were looking for an opening such as AIU to communicate and express to peers.
The very first Know Your Life seminar organized by AIU was held in 2007 with generous contributions by way of sponsorship and guest speakers from nearly all the major reinsurers and some partners. The level of participation and sheer excitement of the final 2 days encouraged the AIU members to go for a second time in the following year, and this time with more participation and at a much larger scale. Since 2007 AIU has successfully conducted a KYL seminar in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and conducted 3 informative workshops including a workshop at Gurgaon, thus ensuring that more underwriters from cities other than Mumbai are also encouraged to participate in the cause. The 2 webinars conducted so far has also been received very well by participants from across the country as it helped AIU impart advanced underwriting training to various locations in real time.
AIU has already had one change of office bearers in 2011 and has inducted several new members in the executive team in the same year to bring in fresh thoughts and more working hands to ensure continuity and widen participation.
“Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.” ~John F Kennedy
AIU is supported by all life insurance companies and is acknowledged by industry forums as an active and participative association committed to professional development of underwriters across all levels. Every KYL seminar has been attended by over 200 delegates from across the country and the count of delegates is being restricted in the last few years owing to capacity of the venues. The program content for all the past KYL seminars is available in the website.AIU has invited speakers of national and international repute in their respective areas. AIU team has always strived to get some of the most respectable professionals from the industry as their keynote speaker at the KYL seminars; Mr R Kannan, Member (Actuary)-IRDA in 2007, Mr K. Subrahmanyam, Executive Director (Actuarial)-IRDA in 2008 , Mr. G.N. Agarwal, President- Institute of Actuaries in 2009 and Mr. Liyaquat Khan, President - Institute of Actuaries in 2010, and Mr S.B Mathur- Secretary General, Life Council in 2011. The dates, program and venue for the KYL seminar for 2012 have been announced soon – the theme for this year is Underwriter’s Balancing Act. The KYL seminar is not just about knowledge-sharing, but also an excellent platform to network and interact with various people from within the industry. The first evening of every KYL seminar has an interesting set of fun activities wherein everyone lets their hair down and puts their best foot forward and delegates look forward to showcasing their talent repertoire asides their underwriting skills.
“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
With the current challenges being faced by the Insurance industry, AIU does not certainly intend to limit itself as a medium of training but also aims at working in the larger interest of underwriting profession and Insurance industry. AIU encourages group discussions on current topics and sharing of views on emerging issues and has taken up worthy causes with other forums from time to time. AIU has upgraded its website to introduce all the initiatives taken and delivered thus far, introduce its members to everyone who would like to get to their professional background, share the latest news through our newsletter, share the content of the previous KYL seminars and provide links to websites used by underwriters for reference and information.
AIU founders believe that the risk managers of tomorrow must possess a conscience that promotes critical thinking and ignite a progressive approach towards long term risk management ensuring that not only the underwriting profession, but also the company, the industry, the economy and the country as a whole shines through this difficult period.
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” ~Henry Ford