Conference organisers in ‘wait and see mode’ amid more cancellations
At least three captive industry events have now fallen victim to the COVID-19 virus, leaving conference planners contemplating the best course of action in dealing with upcoming industry events.
CICA’s flagship captive industry gathering in California, which was due to begin on March 9, was the first event to be cancelled. The Guernsey Captive Briefing, due to be held in London on March 18, and hosted by Guernsey Finance, was cancelled on March 10. Vermont’s captive trade mission to Mexico, organised by Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation and the Vermont Captive Insurance Association (VCIA), was cancelled later on the same day.
However the Self Insurance Institute of America (SIIA), which has an event scheduled for March 16-18 in Charleston, South Carolina, confirmed on March 10 it was still planning to press ahead.
In a statement, the SIIA said: “After carefully reviewing multiple risk assessment considerations and following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, we have concluded to move forward with the event as scheduled.” It promised risk mitigation measures would be implemented at the venue.
Among the most imminent industry gatherings is RIMS 2020, the conference for the Risk Management Society, due to be held in Denver in May. RIMS said it continues to “plan confidently for the show” with added protections in place at the venue. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has publicly deemed the health risk of coronavirus for the general American public to be low at this time,” it said.
But RIMS added it is reviewing the situation daily, and will provide regular updates to keep delegates informed.
Meanwhile, a number of US states have captive industry gatherings in coming months. The biggest are the 2020 Bermuda Captive Conference in June and the VCIA’s Annual Conference in August. There is no indication either event will be cancelled, as yet. But a spokesperson for the VCIA admitted it is already considering contingency plans in the event COVID-19 makes holding the event impossible.
Smaller industry gatherings are more imminent. In Connecticut, the 2020 Annual Collaborative is due in May. Stephen DiCenso, principal at Milliman and president of the Connecticut Captive Insurance Association (CCIA), said CCIA has had preliminary discussions about contingency plans, but remained in “wait and see mode.” He noted that many delegates to this event drive from nearby, potentially making it easier to go ahead.
Meanwhile, the Tennessee Captive Insurance Association (TCIA) is due to hold its annual conference in June. A spokesperson at TCIA confirmed it is also monitoring the situation, but has made no concrete decisions yet, given continued uncertainty at how the spread of the virus will develop.
A number of large captive board meetings are also also known to have been cancelled, with at least one substituting its usual gathering with a videoconference.
Given that general uncertainty, every organisation planning a conference in coming months will be weighing their options and looking for the right balance between getting on with business and taking reasonable precautions. In coming weeks the speed of the spread and the scale of the problem may become clearer. But it is clear that those who expect to attend captive industry conferences in coming months should be prepared for the possibility of more cancellations ahead.