History

On November 28, 1967, a group of seven Midwestern companies met to discuss common concerns and interests in the field of reinsurance. Leo Heifetz, who was with Northwestern National at the time, organized this first meeting. The meeting was held at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. The seven companies represented at the meeting were: Northwest National, Employers of Wausau, Sentry, Unity Fire, American States, Northeastern of Hartford and Kemper. The meeting topics included: commission and brokerage levels relative to such items as global slips, reinstatement premiums, underwriting aspects, state of the facultative market; writing working - level casualty excess of loss insurance on a pro rata reinsurance basis; and IBNR procedures - many topics which could not be discussed today.

The first meeting was a success, and the group agreed to meet regularly. The group named the meeting the "Midwest Reinsurance Conference." During the March 4, 1969 conference, initial membership eligibility criteria were established. Each company had to have a formal reinsurance department and had to operate through the brokerage market.

In February 1971, Lee Heifetz was elected as the first Chairman. By the June 12, 1974 conference, the organization had grown to 26 members and several changes of historical importance were made. The first constitution and bylaws were proposed and discussed, the organization adopted its first name, "Independent Reinsurance Underwriters," and the membership requirement was changed. In the latter case, membership was changed to an individual basis, rather than a corporate basis. At the March 12, 1975 conference, the first formal constitution (effective as of January 1, 1975) was introduced and adopted.

Up until 1975, only a Chairman and Vice Chairman were involved in organizing the conference. When the organization was small, the "host company" (one of the members volunteering on a revolving basis) would handle the general expenses of the group and then prorate them back to those in attendance. As the group grew, it was necessary to obtain certain funds in advance from the members, so that the Convention Chairman could prepay required deposits for convention meeting facilities. To facilitate these matters, the position of Secretary was established in 1975. The next change was the formation of the Executive Committee during the September 29, 1976 conference, along with standing committees to handle technical, legal and membership issues.

In June of 1978, additional standing committees were formed to deal with convention site selection, broker relations, actuarial issues and claims handling. An archivist/historian was also appointed. The Board of Directors was established in 1978. Initially, the board consisted of the nine most recent former Chairmen. Bob Sias was hired by the organization in 1982 as the Convention Site Manager and served in that capacity until 1988. Also in 1982, the position of Treasurer was added.

In the early years, the group was able to meet three times a year. But in 1979, it became obvious with the growing membership that the conference could only be held twice a year. Also in 1979, a survey of the membership showed that the members wanted to have a separate claims workshop. Starting in 1980, separate claims workshops were held. The first five were headed by Kenneth D. Johnson of Signet Star Reinsurance Company.

In 1982, the organization recognized the need for close communication with the brokers on matters of common interest. The first joint IRU/Broker Conference was held on June 9, 1982. The IRU subsequently decided to hold joint conferences every other year as a third meeting between its Spring/ Fall regular meetings. After the second conference in June, 1984, it was decided to hold them annually, and make the regular spring conference a combined meeting.

The "Management Council" was formed as an adjunct organization to the IRU in late 1983. It was comprised of the senior treaty operating officer of each IRU member company wishing to participate. The Council was intended as a forum for the discussion of larger industry issues, functioning without the constraints of the IRU constitution, but remaining cognizant of antitrust aspects. The first organizational meeting of the Council was held in June, 1984.

At the March, 1985 meeting of the Council, the members approved the following resolutions:

That the Chairman of the IRU be authorized to appoint a (study) committee from the Management Council to specifically study ways that the IRU or the Management Council might be able to be more effectively represented as a cohesive voice of the U.S. reinsurance industry in the market place. The Committee's recommendations will include a survey of all Management Council members....

The Report of the study committee concluded that the structure of the IRU at the time would not allow the organization to assume a more dynamic role in the industry and recommended various constitutional changes, the most significant being the replacement of the Management Council with and expanded Board of Directors, and a Board of Representatives.

During 1986, the Directors and Representatives implemented a variety of organizational improvements, which included retaining outside counsel, purchasing liability insurance, and the recommendation to incorporate the association. The membership adopted a resolution to incorporate during the Spring meeting in 1986. On August 14, 1986, IRU became incorporated as a not - for - profit corporation under the laws of New York. George Berlet, Edd Erickson, Roy Nelson, Bob Lippincott, and were the named incorporators.

The first Officers and Directors of the Corporation were President, Donald L. Cole; Vice President, Clarke DeWaters; Secretary, Edd Erickson; Treasurer, Bob Lippincott; Directors - at - Large, Warren Vickery, Dick Haskins and Lockwood Burt.

With the membership still growing, and the numerous committees implementing projects and educational programs, it was decided in 1988 that a search committee be appointed to find a person to work full time as an employee of the Association. In May 1988, Dale Bohm was hired to be the first full - time Executive Director of the Independent Reinsurance Underwriters Association, Inc. having over 30 years insurance experience, including 15 years of insurance association management, he immediately assumed the administrative duties that had been done by members of the Board and their companies' staffs. The first Headquarters for IRU was located in Canton, Georgia, with a full - time staff.

Under the leadership of Charles "Edd" Erickson in 1988, the Board of Directors announced a five - year meeting schedule in order that IRU member firms and their guests are able to plan attendance at future meetings that would not conflict with other insurance related functions. A membership directory was created listing heads of various departments in member companies, a regular newsletter was published, and an attempt made to publish a reinsurance journal that would be recognized worldwide. Member meetings became more professional due to automated equipment and professional meeting planning.

In 1987, the Board instituted its internship program for college juniors and seniors majoring in business and carrying a grade point average of at least 3.0. The program was designed to last eight weeks and students spend half of their internship with a reinsurance broker and half with a reinsurance company.

The first Internship program began in the summer of 1988 with 8 applicants and 4 interns. By the summer of 1992 the program grew to involve some 70 colleges and universities, with 24 applicants filling 7 internships. Gerard Radke of Phoenix Reinsurance Company chaired the intern/education committee from its inception to the conclusion of the 1992 Program.

A Summer Board of Directors meeting was established to discuss future programs and projects. The first meeting was held at the Sagamore Hotel on Lake George, New York, in August 1988.

Hurricane Hugo gave notice of things to come on Wednesday, September 20, 1989, when attendees at the Fall Meeting held at the Westin Resort on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, were requested to evacuate the hotel after being there for only one day. Hugo left little damage to Hilton Head but devastated Charleston, South Carolina, as it moved north up the coast; 136 members were in attendance.

At the Spring meeting held April 6, 1990, a major bylaw was adopted by the membership, enabling the Board to act freely on behalf of the membership. The number of firms on the membership roster was 99.

In the fall of 1992, the IRU, with the effort of Dr. Claude C. Lilly, began development of the Journal of Reinsurance. The first issue of the Journal was published in the fall of 1993.

Mary K. Clancy was hired to fill Dale Bohm's position as Executive Director upon his retirement in 1998. At the same time, she established the IRU headquarters in Central New Jersey. Mary K. introduced more modern methods of association management and her untimely death in 2005 saw her assistant, Amy Barra, assume the position of Executive Director. Ms. Barra resigned in September 2012 and retiring long-time board director, Jeremy R. Wallis, assumed the role, as a consultant, of Interim Executive Director. For the first time since 1988 IRU had no employees and 2012 through 2014 were times of considerable change for the IRU as all administrative functions were outsourced with considerable savings. In May 2013 The Beaumont Group, Inc, were selected to provide professional administrative services, including event management and Jerry Wallis was appointed Executive Director in November 2013. By that time it was clear that there was no longer an industry need for a second full conference and 2013 was the last Fall Conference held. On May 31, 2014 the lease on the IRU's premises in New Jersey expired and the corporate address reverted to Beaumont's in New York. 

Under President Jim Brost's leadership a strategic review was undertaken commencing in July 2014 with workgroups formed to analyze the existing services offered by the IRU to determine if they were still relevant to the 21st century reinsurance industry. Out of this extensive analysis, in which all directors participated, four core services were identified and voted upon. Strategic Initiative reports were produced and approved for implantation by the full board of directors in January 2015. The four core services are: Conference, Education, Journal of Reinsurance, and Scholars. With the radical changes in the industry and growth in companies taking on summer interns it was clear that the IRU internship program begun so successfully in 1988 needed to change. Companies now preferred to source they own interns applying their own criteria and it was evident that our program was outmoded. Accordingly, the Scholars program was developed as a two-part service. One was to provide scholarship funding to eligible students via an essay submission on a relevant reinsurance or insurance topic with the scholarship committee determining winners. Secondly, with the increased aging of the reinsurance (and insurance) industry and in order to make college students aware of the reinsurance industry when considering career choices the committee is charged with developing a series of presentations suitable for outreach by existing IRU directors and committee members to colleges and higher education institutions across the nation.

Following the implementation of the Strategic Initiative a re-branding of the IRU took place with a cohesive, modern look and attractive new logo introduced in the fall of 2015 and the decision made to use "IRUA" as the association's abbreviated form so as to tie-in with the website and email addresses. Contemporaneously, the need for a more modern and more user-friendly, including mobile applications, website was seen and this is currently under construction for a Summer 2016 rollout and in time for the 50th Anniversary celebration in 2017.