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Young Insurance Professionals Plan Their Future

More than 100 professional insurance agents from around the country gathered on March 28th, 2007 for the inaugural National Young Insurance Professionals networking reception....
August 16, 2007

Group Makes Plans for Their Second National Event

By Donna Chiapperino and Shawn Kain
[Photos follow story.]

More than 100 professional insurance agents from around the country gathered on March 28th, 2007 for the inaugural National Young Insurance Professionals networking reception.  It was an event that will not soon be forgotten by those who were in attendance.  Representing the New York Young Insurance Professionals at the meeting were Shawn Kain, CPCU, ARE; Michael Cracco; and Donna Chiapperino.  Kain is the current president of the New York YIP's and Cracco and Chiapperino are both active past presidents of the New York YIP's.

The idea for the program came from within the ranks of the New York Young Insurance Professionals about three years ago.  "We have a Tri-State Meeting where leaders from the New York, the New Jersey and the Connecticut Young Insurance Professionals get together to exchange ideas, discuss membership issues, plan events, and talk about ways to attract more young people into the industry" explained Shawn Kain, president of the NY YIP's.

"We thought that it would be great to see this type of brainstorming session conducted on a national level," Kain said. "In addition, the creation of a National Young Insurance Professional of the Year Award two years ago was an important first step to achieving a higher level of consciousness for the YIP's mission and for young insurance professionals in general on a national level."

"As a result of the award, Young Insurance Professionals around the country are recognized annually by PIA National," Kain said. "We see this annual meeting as the second step. By bringing the young insurance professionals together to discuss current issues in each of their states, as they progress through the leadership ranks, they will be able to maintain contact with their counterparts in other states around the country and learn from the experiences and the knowledge pool of other YIP leaders."

Speed Networking

For the first meeting, the young agents had the assistance of Kellie Bray, Assistant Vice President, Federal Affairs for PIA National, to hold "speed networking" whereby each attendee was handed a card with questions.  Participants had only a few minutes in which to ask a person questions on their cards, and when a bell rang, they had to switch to another person whom they had never met.  The evening went off without a hitch.  Everyone, from PIA National President Donna Pile, to PIANY President David Dickson, was seen networking and enjoying the food and beverages!

In attendance was Peter Thornton, CIC, recipient of the first National Young Insurance Professional of the Year Award.  Thornton is a New Jersey Young Insurance Professional past president, and has been active in the association for many years.  He currently serves on the PIANJ board of directors.  "I had never heard of 'speed networking' and I thought the concept was really fresh!  It was a great way to get to know new people quickly and without hesitation" noted Thornton.  "The New Jersey YIP's really are doing a lot on a state level to attract young people into the industry and we would love to work with other states to share our ideas and learn what programs and concepts have worked in other areas of the country."

Also in attendance was Mary Beth Billiot, president of the Louisiana Young Insurance Professionals.  "What impressed me most was the enthusiasm of everyone in the room," said Billiot. "The various states that have formal YIP or equivalent groups would be able to benefit from an official, inclusive meeting next year."

Both Shawn Kain and Donna Chiapperino spoke about perpetuation of our industry and how important it is to everyone on an agency level, a state affiliate level, and a national association level. 

"The reason we looked to formalize an award and a meeting for young insurance professionals in the first place was to recognize the rising stars.  With that accomplished, the next step was to get these stars more involved and introduce them to their professional peers in the next town, the next county, the next state and so one."  Kain stated. 

YIPs Getting Together

"And that is where PIA comes in," Kain said.  "The Young Insurance Professional structure, regardless of the state from which it hails, works.  But each works a little differently.  Each has separate accomplishments, and each has unique needs.  Every state develops membership differently as each has distinctive membership and different bylaws.  But, each faces a common dilemma: How do we attract new blood into the insurance industry, and then, how do we keep them here?"

At this annual gathering, we were able to meet with representatives from across the country.  Business cards were exchanged, as were ideas, but with limited time all looked forward to next year.  The room was united in the commitment that next year's meeting should be more formalized, with a more structured agenda to discuss what has been successful in each state that has an organized YIP group; such as how to recruit new membership or plan an event, and a forum to ask questions on ways to improve and/or develop their own groups.

Hearing this request, PIA National has decided to hold a more structured two hour YIP meeting at the 2008 Federal Legislative Summit as well as a YIP Networking Reception.

"Two representatives from each state will be invited - regardless of whether or not that state has an organized YIP group," explained Donna Chiapperino, currently serving as Treasurer of PIA of New York.  "The agenda will be sent out to respondents so that they will have an opportunity to discuss the topics within their state and get feedback from boards and committees.  For the states that do not have a formal YIP group, they are invited to send young people looking to get more involved to learn how events are planned and members are recruited in other states.  States without a formalized group will be able to utilize the meeting as a stepping stone to generate ideas and possibly create a YIP event or committee in their home state.  While only in the planning process, we are excited that this will be a great opportunity for everyone involved."

The concept of the formalized meeting is to generate a network where as the peer group of young leaders work through their respective careers, no matter the state, they have contacts around the country.  They can pick up the phone and get answers to questions regarding markets, coverages, industry trends and issues and so on.

Just as important, as these young leaders move into PIA leadership roles in their state affiliates, they will have contacts from other states around the country.

Think of the usefulness of this from an industry perspective if the PIA leaders from the various states have virtually grown up in the industry together. In theory, this is what we are striving for -   if each state sets their sites on sending their best and their brightest leaders to PIA's Federal Legislative Summit and the National Young Insurance Professional Meeting, their agencies, state affiliates and National PIA will have the perpetuation of ideas, enthusiasm and leadership that they have all sought.
With the age-old adage that success breeds success, young people leading the way will continue to attract the best and the brightest into our industry for years to come.

Donna Chiapperino is director of marketing for the Jimcor Agencies of Montvale, New Jersey. She is past president of NY-Young Insurance Professionals and was honored as NY-YIP of the year in 1997.  Chiapperino has been involved actively with PIA of New York for more than 10 years and currently serves on the PIA of New York board of directors; she is also a member of the New Jersey Young Insurance Professionals.

Shawn Kain, CPCU, ARE, is the manager of Commercial Lines for Utica First Insurance Co., Oriskany, N.Y. Kain is the current Chairman of the Young Insurance Professionals of New York and was honored as NY-YIP of the Year in 2005.

PIA Connection

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2007 PIA Connection.

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