Inclusivity, Innovation, and AI at the 2024 SIR Annual Conference

I recently attended the Society of Insurance Research’s Annual Conference. This was my first time attending the event, and I can say that it was a unique and positive experience. The participants were welcoming, the sessions informative, and the keynote speakers thought provoking.

SIR 2024

As you might expect, there were some common themes that reached across sessions, and although grounded in the insurance industry, these themes cross industry lines. So, wherever your business sits, I hope you’ll read on.

While more than 3 themes were addressed during the conference’s 2 days, these are the ones that really struck a chord with me. None of these themes are novel, but each one can play a role in your business’s strategy and success.


Inclusivity in the insurance industry was not something I had given much thought to. But, after listening to Carey Nadeau, Co-CEO of LOOP, talk about how LOOP has taken a non-traditional route for determining auto insurance rates, it was clear that their method is much more inclusive and allows them to serve a portion of the population that has historically been underserved because of parameters not related to their driving such as where they live, their education, or their occupation.

This is a lesson that many industries can learn from. Look at your customer base. Do you know who you are serving and who is missing? Do you have policies, procedures, and decision criteria in place that have the unintended effect of eliminating or limiting access to substantial groups of potential customers? What is the potential for growth if you find a way to include an underserved population?

With the speed of business and competition ever increasing, doing things the same way they’ve been done for years can be a barrier to inclusivity. Businesses should ask themselves—does maintaining the status quo help or hurt the company?


Insurance is experiencing a renaissance of sorts with the rise of Insurtech. Innovations that leverage technology to make insurance more efficient, affordable, and convenient are disrupting the industry in big ways.

Being disruptive is not the only measure of innovation, however. Andrew Morse of The Andover Companies made the point to call out innovation as “something different that creates value” for the organization, whether the innovation is big or small. In other cases, such as new product, it can be important to ensure the impact of innovation meets a certain threshold, such as X amount of revenue gain or earnings increase, before running ahead to launch.

Regardless of the scale or scope of innovation, testing, measuring, and learning are common elements of any innovation practice. These are basic tenets that any company can and should implement as part of their innovation roadmap. At any stage of innovation, whether early concept, test product, or refined concept, establishing a program, and setting criteria for passing an innovation from one stage to the next are important parts of protecting and ultimately growing your business overall. Without benchmarks or success criteria, risk to the company is compounded when it could be avoided.

Artificial Intelligence

AI, particularly generative AI, is a hot topic, and the insurance industry is not alone in considering when and how to use it. From increasingly intuitive chatbots, an increased ability to manage and process large amounts of data, claims processing, and proprietary tools that leverage generative AI, the use of artificial intelligence in the insurance industry is growing.

Sessions about AI covered several topics, from benefits to the researcher to impacts on employees and customers. In these sessions, I was struck by a couple of ideas that I heard from multiple speakers, which apply across industries as we all navigate this new technology.

First and foremost, the point was made and consistently agreed upon, that AI is a tool and not a solution. Open-source generative AI tools should be used cautiously. As we’ve heard in the news and perhaps encountered ourselves, the generated answers may not be correct. When using these sources, consider employing an “ask but verify” approach. If possible, identify source material the platform used, or simply research further any output that is generated.

Another common theme in AI sessions was the need to implement change management and/or guard rails for your company’s use of AI. AI in general, and generative AI in particular, is like a new game that we all want to play, but for which the rules are still being written. Companies cannot afford to ignore the presence of AI, as it will continue to grow and become more pervasive. Without rules and regulations for its use, it could do a great amount of damage to a company; however, with proper, controlled use, it can make business processes more streamlined, enhance customers’ experiences, and be an aid to your workforce’s productivity. For the foreseeable future, having a forward-looking, evolving, and well-promoted plan for AI use may be the best course of action for any company.

The SIR Annual Conference was a great event. The people I encountered were smart, friendly, and open in sharing their ideas to better the industry as a whole. It’s one of the best conferences I’ve been to in terms of these aspects. If you’re in the insurance industry, I suggest you make plans to be in Chicago in 2025. You’ll learn a lot, probably make a few new friends, and definitely have the opportunity to geek out on insurance talk with likeminded folks.


Julie Trujillo

Julie Trujillo

Senior Vice President

As a research consultant with over 20 years of experience, Julie provides strategic direction to clients who are struggling with difficult business challenges. Julie guides her clients to identify the business questions and then designs research to get answers. Julie’s experience includes quantitative and qualitative research across an array of categories and research techniques. Julie holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing, from Valparaiso University.

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