“A who?” is the typical response from anyone who has never heard of AHOU; The Association of Home Office Underwriters. If you happen to be in the life insurance industry, then you may have attended the Annual Conference which is held annually across North America. In 2018, the conference was in Chicago, and I was fortunate to be able to attend this four-day action packed conference. This was my first time attending AHOU, it was an exciting experience from which I was able to take away several expert insights to apply to my work.
What is AHOU?
AHOU is an international insurance and financial services association that was founded in 2002. They are a group of enthusiastic professionals in the life, health, and living benefits insurance industry who find risk selection to be so enchanting, that they developed a “Woodstock” of some sorts for the industry. But don’t be mistaken, this extravaganza of educational seminars are not for the faint of heart.
What Topics Does the AHOU Conference Cover?
Over the four-day span, there was a plethora of topics that were presented by several industry experts. In fact, there were over 30 different, but equally engaging, subjects. The topics ranged considerably, including melanoma, atrial fibrillation, lab findings, fraud, digital transformation, and trends in life insurance. Given the abundance of interesting presentations, I was able to attend a selection of these breakout sessions. Beyond learning about new ideas and innovations in the industry, I was able to get a better sense of how others within the community were approaching the same topics that I would typically encounter back at the office.
Discovering the Marketplace
Apart from indulging in all the academic material the conference had to offer, there was also the Marketplace. This exposition extended over a two-day period, providing sponsors and exhibitors the opportunity to display their services and interact with peers and potential clients. Browsing through the Marketplace was the ideal place to become acquainted with insurance services that I would normally not be familiar with, such as electronic data retrieval platforms, and new laboratory procedures. Seeing as the “insurance world” revolves around underwriters, it was a great occasion to meet other professionals who make significant contributions to the industry.
Since the presentations and marketplace were conveniently located at the same venue, this gave everyone the chance to mingle and socialize during the refreshment breaks. The “New Attendees Meet and Greet” allowed the first-timers to introduce ourselves to one another, while the evening reception themed after Chicago neighbourhoods offered plenty of live music, food, and beverages.
Networking with Like-minded Professionals
Without a doubt, the most valuable aspect of attending these types of conferences is networking. Networking is not strictly about personal career development or informally presenting a service or product. It can be about connecting with like-minded people, industry peers, experts in other fields of insurance, or innovators from emerging fields. Not only does this help solidify your confidence and purpose in the industry but can also assist you in establishing your identity within the underwriting community. From the curated education, networking, and social events, I was able to develop lasting relationships with my colleagues, make new friends, and let my sails fill up in the “Windy City”.
Thinking of heading to AHOU 2019 and want to connect with a fellow underwriter?! Connect with me on LinkedIn!