A number of key insurance organizations and leaders in Iowa are stepping up to help revitalize the Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame in an effort to make it the lead organization that celebrates the insurance industry in Iowa. There is also some preliminary discussion about potentially combining the annual event with the Global Insurance Symposium.

Steve Morain, a retired attorney in Des Moines and current president of the Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame, told me that the organization’s board has been working for the past several months on a marketing makeover for the organization, to include an updated website and a fundraising campaign to pay for it, along with a refreshed, livelier format for the annual induction dinner.

The Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame dates back to planning efforts that began in 1994, and 10 initial inductees were recognized in April 1997. In that year, the hall of fame opened an educational exhibit about Iowa’s insurance industry in the State Historical Museum, supported by a fundraising campaign with participation from all of the major Iowa-based insurance companies and trade organizations. The exhibit was closed out in 2003 and was subsequently discarded in 2010. The website was built in 2006 to provide an electronic record of the hall of fame and its members.

Principal Financial Group has agreed to be the event sponsor for this year’s hall of fame induction event, a $15,000 commitment. EquiTrust Life Insurance Co. and Grinnell Mutual Insurance have each committed $7,500 to be the reception sponsor and presentation sponsor, respectively, Morain said. Additionally, a number of other companies have made gold, silver and bronze commitments for $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000.

“We are trying to increase the annual foundation support so that we can turn this hall of fame event into a celebration of the entire insurance industry,” Morain said. “Each of the industry’s companies [in Iowa] celebrates its own success, but nothing celebrates the industry as a whole. That’s what we’re trying to do with the revitalized hall of fame.”  

New for the induction event this year will be short videos highlighting the careers of each of the honorees. For events in 2022 and beyond, the hall of fame plans to produce a feature video each year to highlight a different aspect of the insurance industry in Iowa.

The organization has already raised $75,000 and anticipates additional funding that will go toward fully funding both the new website and this year’s event, including production of the videos, Morain said. Any additional funds beyond those needs will be directed to the foundation’s scholarship fund.

Terri Vaughan, former Iowa insurance commissioner and currently director of the Vaughan Institute of Risk Management with the Tippie College of Business, coordinated the effort to revitalize the organization’s website. She was inducted into the Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame in 2003.

Vaughan told me her first phone call was to Principal Financial Group CEO Dan Houston, who connected her with Beth Wood, Principal’s chief marketing officer. Working with marketing professionals from several insurers, among them IMT Insurance, Nationwide and Grinnell Mutual Insurance, she assembled a focus group of past inductees for ideas that jelled into a new marketing plan.

The website design was handled by Vickie Chai, a 2016 Drake University marketing and information systems alum whom Vaughan had worked with previously in doing design work for a past induction ceremony. Chai completed the work from Malaysia, where she runs Upbrand Digital and Consulting.  

Looking ahead, Morain said there have been some preliminary discussions with the Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Global Insurance Symposium for possibly incorporating the Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame’s annual celebration with the yearly GIS event.

“It does have some merit to at least look at,” he said. “And there is some overlap between the GIS and Hall of Fame boards. There have been some discussions on both sides that we ought to at least explore it.”