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Special meeting to decide ending of insurance school

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After half a century of serving Bermuda and the insurance industry, Bermuda’s school for insurance studies is coming to an end.

And now a special general meeting has been called for the membership of the Bermuda Insurance Institute to decide the way forward.

The membership has included the who’s who of the island’s international insurers and/or associated companies, together with related industry organisations and service providers, such as banks, the big law firms and accountants.

The interests of Bermuda and its international financial services industry have long been aligned with those of the BII. And now it appears that the futures of the institute and the Bermuda College are destined to be connected.

The BII has been the pathway over the years for thousands to find rewarding careers in the international insurance industry in Bermuda and abroad.

The institute’s presence meant that Bermudians did not need to travel overseas for insurance studies. And those in the industry were able to take the classes and sit the exams necessary to advance their careers.

But it was also a great resource for those outside the industry looking in — those who gravitated to insurance from other industries. It also meant bankers, lawyers, accountants and others could learn more about the industry they sought to serve.

In recent years the profile of the BII has been reduced, with funding challenges, industry changes as well as the natural evolution in the administration of insurance education.

The pandemic and the requirement for social distance and distance learning changed for ever the efficacy of physical classrooms, versus online courses and exams.

But industry executives connected to the institute — many of whom have taken courses and seminars at the BII — are loath to commiserate over the closure of the school.

They are too busy looking to its future even if it materialises in another form. They see the next moves as part of a journey for the institute.

One idea gaining traction is to fold what is left of the school into the programmes of the Bermuda College.

Mark Berry, the chairman of the Bermuda College Foundation, said that the aims of the college and the institute are aligned.

He added: “The Bermuda College strategies include creating opportunities for its citizens and sustaining industries on the island. And the insurance/reinsurance industries are important to Bermuda.

“The Bermuda College Foundation is interested in this as a possible development.”

But the talks for a potential collaboration are still in their early days. The special general meeting of BII members has been scheduled for January 10.

And the College itself will have decisions to make.

Mr Berry said: “Dr Duranda Greene and Dr Phyllis Curtis-Tweed are involved in the front line of these discussions. So you definitely have the principals of the college fully involved and aware and trying to work to make something happen.

“And from the foundation side, we will be trying to garner support from all those companies who supported the BII over those 50 years and have them build a liaison with the Bermuda College Foundation, and again consolidating and making more efficient the fundraising and donor support that is so critical for this to continue to develop the new programme.”

American universities are now offering special educational pathways for insurance students to waive some of the course curriculum to speed them along to certification.

Past chairman of the BII governing council Shannon Totten said there is great value in providing similar opportunities for the Bermuda college. She said there are efforts under way to do just that.

She also assured that virtual learning is here to stay.

“What happened during Covid,” she said, “was that the institute continued to offer exams but in a virtual format. And so now, because 99 per cent of students have opted for the virtual exam format, they’ve decided to do that pretty much full fledged, going forward.”

Chairman of the BII governing council Rob Paton said: “Historically we’ve had about 150 (new) designations each year (including the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters or CPCU, Associates in Risk Management or ARM and Associates in Reinsurance or ARe).

“Bermudians were getting globally recognised, through professional qualifications for the insurance industry that allows them to work in Bermuda, the UK, the US, wherever.

“In peak years we’d have 700 to 1,200 examinations.”

“Historically we’d help people through classroom work and one-on-one training. So that was a key piece of what the BII was doing, providing those professional qualifications.

“But broader than that, we also held various seminars, workshops, lunch and learns. The institute held various events where we just discussed the day in a life of an underwriter, etc. We also had conferences. We had executive training.”

Shannon Totten, former chairwoman, Bermuda Insurance Institute Governing Council
Mark Berry, chairman of the Bermuda College Foundation
Robert Paton, chairman, Bermuda Insurance Institute governing council

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Published December 16, 2021 at 10:37 am (Updated December 17, 2021 at 8:06 am)

Special meeting to decide ending of insurance school

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