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In October 1967, the Vietnam War was raging, the race to the moon was still being run, the first African-American Supreme Court justice was sworn in, “Hair” premiered in New York’s East Village, Lulu topped the Billboard Hot 100, and actuaries still used slide rules.
The month also saw the launch of Business Insurance, a magazine targeting people — usually men, back then — involved in the burgeoning field of risk management.
The magazine was the brainchild of G.D. Crain, the founder of Crain Communications Inc., a business-to-business publishing firm based in Chicago, and its first editor was his son, Rance Crain. The Crain family owned Business Insurance until 2016, when it was sold to its current owner, Adam Potter, founder and CEO of the Claims and Litigation Management Alliance.
From the beginning, Business Insurance sought to differentiate itself from competitors in the field of insurance publishing by writing with the concerns of the commercial buyers of insurance in mind rather than those of the companies selling the products.
And the magazine’s staff today owe a debt a gratitude to all the editors and reporters who, over the years, shaped its voice and built its reputation.
Reading through the archives of Business Insurance, the differences between the risk management and insurance sector of the late 1960s and the industry today are stark. Most obviously, the names of the players have changed. While well-known brands such as AIG, The Hartford and Travelers still feature in the industry, albeit transformed from the companies they were 50 years ago, others — The Home, INA, Reliance and many more — are gone or have been absorbed by other groups. And in the intervening years, numerous others have started then merged or disappeared.
And among brokers, the tally of once-major firms — the so-called alphabet houses — no longer trading seems even longer: Alexander & Alexander, Corroon & Black, Frank B. Hall, Fred S. James, Johnson & Higgins, and the list goes on and on.
But more than just the names, the way of doing business has changed, too. While it’s still very much a relationship business and the basic structure of insurance coverage is similar to that of 50 years ago, other parts of the risk management process have been transformed.
Total cost of risk, captive insurance, claims-made coverage, catastrophe modeling, employment practices liability insurance, enterprise risk management and cyber crime were in their infancy or unknown in 1967.
Perhaps the biggest change has been the use of technology, which has increased the resources available to risk managers and allowed them to dispense with many mundane tasks and concentrate on bigger issues.
In this special 50th Anniversary edition of Business Insurance, we look back on the past half century and the stories and people that have shaped the sector we report on. We hope you enjoy reading the articles and profiles as we all prepare for the next 50 years, which are likely to see vastly more changes than the past 50.
Industry consolidation, more and better data, the emergence of the Bermuda market and alternative capital, technological developments and the hard — then softer — market swings are among the key trends that have impacted the insurance industry over the past 50 years, say executives.