Insurance Industry Celebrates Women’s Achievements

By | May 21, 2008

May 18-24, 2008, marks National Insurance Women’s Week, a celebration recognizing the contributions women are making in all areas of the insurance industry.

The National Association of Insurance Women began NAIW Week as National Insurance Women’s Day on May 10, 1957. The first weeklong celebration called “National Insurance Women’s Week” was held May 16-22, 1965. Since then, the week beginning the third Sunday in May has traditionally been set aside each year to applaud men and women in insurance, and to recognize their achievements. In 1988, the event was renamed NAIW Week.

Across the country, local chapters of the association are hosting celebrations. For example, the Los Angeles NAIW chapter is hosting its 80th annual officer installation and awards banquet on May 21. Other chapters recognize the week by naming an Insurance Professional of the Year and a Rookie of the Year; hosting an Industry Night, by participating in All Industry Day, and by dedicating one day during the week for special attention to a critical industry and/or social issue such as drinking and driving, among other activities.

NAIW International took root in 1938, when Elsie B. Mayer and C. Bertha Rachofsky joined nine other Denver insurance women to form an organization for insurance education purposes, according to NAIW International. The two most challenging aspects facing Insurance Women of Denver in those first years were soliciting members and convincing employers that the association’s purpose was truly educational and not a cover for union activities, the association said.

By 1940, it was determined that the time for such an association was ripe. The organizational meeting was held June 21-23, 1940, in Denver. Mayer served as general chairman for the event and 19 groups, representing some 1,500 individual members, were among the attendees. Total registration was 187, of which 65 were delegates. States represented at the first meeting included Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington. The chartering groups were 17, representing 2,000 individual members.

Today, NAIW International, headquartered in Tulsa, Okla., has members include both women and men, and work in every facet of the industry — as agents or brokers, adjusters, underwriters, claims professionals, risk managers, producers, insurance educators, customer service representatives, agency owners and automation specialists. Membership spans the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, England, Virgin Islands, Australia, Africa, Kuwait, India and Mongolia.

For more information about NAIW and individual chapter’s celebrations of NAIW Week, visit

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