Thursday, April 29, 2010

History of the Fraternal Home Office Underwriters Association (FHOUA)

Sharon Marble started it all in 1985. At that time Sharon was Director of Underwriting at Royal Neighbors of America. She was aware that the Farm Bureau organization had a practice of holding a meeting of their underwriters immediately following the IHOU. Sharon reasoned that the fraternal underwriters in attendance at an IHOU meeting would also benefit from getting together.

A meeting for fraternal societies would encourage:
· Professionalism
· Respect for underwriters working in fraternal societies
· More fraternal underwriter participation in the IHOU meetings
· Camaraderie
· Networking
· Discussion of the special problems of fraternals

It seemed clear that such a gathering would advance the cause of fraternal underwriting. So, Sharon picked up the telephone and placed calls to several fraternal societies, asking if they would be interested in joining such a group. Having received considerable encouragement, she then wrote to all the fraternals, informing them a meeting would be held following the 1985 IHOU convention in Dallas, Texas, A total of twenty fraternal societies were represented at the first meeting.

In 1987, a small group consisting of Del Hoeffner, Jim Lee, Sharon Marble, Larry Martin, and a few others concluded that the group should become official, elect officers, and draw up by-laws. A list of five articles was developed, covering purpose, officers, membership, meeting and amendments.

The group started meeting for dinner on Wednesday evening. The official business meeting started with a breakfast on Thursday morning. In 1998, the Wednesday dinner was changed to a Wednesday lunch, with Wednesday evening open. The meeting reconvened Thursday morning lasting until noon. Our attempt to extend the meeting until 2:00 p.m. found many leaving at noon anyway, so the adjourning time was cut back again to noon.

The usual format of meetings of the Fraternal Home Office Underwriters is an informal question and answer period. Although we discuss important issues and facts of life underwriting, we avoid all activities, which could or might appear to violate antitrust laws. We avoid discussing pricing, ratings, or proposing any business actions regarding individual applicants for insurance. The purpose of our association, as stated in the by-laws, “is to stimulate the thinking and increase the knowledge of members, and not to formulate or recommend any underwriting procedures or practice.”

Notes of the discussion have been circulated each year, and in 1991, the first directory was printed and distributed.

The life insurance industry in general and fraternal societies in particular have taken many a turn since the FHOUA was founded. And no one doubts that changes will come at an even faster pace in the years to come. The existence of an organization like the Fraternal Home Office Underwriters Association is sure to become even more valuable, as fraternals – with their unique strengths and challenges – face the future.

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