A Brief History
The New England Claim Association was originally organized in 1927 as the Boston Life & Accident Claim Association. Official records apparently begin in 1928.
The Association began when Harry Read, who had recently arrived in Boston from Hartford, spoke to Edward Millea regarding his favorable impressions of a meeting he had attended of the newly formed New York Claim Association. Subsequently, Harry Read, Edward Millea (the first President of the Association), George Bacon and Lawrence Pinckney met to draw up rules and a charter. Much of the early success of the Association was the result of the desire and hard work of these four individuals, especially Lawrence Pinckney, who was responsible for preparing the original charter and for serving as President during the years 1928 through 1931.
Initial membership of the Boston Life & Accident Claim Association as indicated for 1929 – 1930 listed 49 members, all from Massachusetts: 46 from Boston, 2 from Worcester, and one from Springfield. Recognizing the changing geographical scope of its membership over the years, the Association changed its name in June 1958 to New England Claim Association.
Early meetings were held at the Boston City Club at Pemberton Square. After a few years, the Association moved to the Hotel Kenmore. Later, as the continued growth of the Association necessitated larger facilities, the meetings were moved to the Hotel Vendrome. Following a tragic fire which destroyed that hotel, meetings were held at the Red Coach Grill in downtown Boston. Because of increasing membership and difficult parking, the Association moved again, this time to Valle’s Steak House in Newton, MA, where the majority of meetings were held for many years until the owners decided to demolish the building. The Association then decided to hold meetings in various locations to accommodate the geographical mix of the membership.
Initially, only male members of qualifying companies were eligible for membership. That stipulation was overturned in 1972. The Association now benefits by its substantial numbers of female members. In this regard, another milestone was achieved in 1989 with the election of Dorothy L. Cohen (Berkshire Life Insurance Company) as the Association’s first female president.
In earlier times one meeting each year graciously was hosted by one of the represented companies. Travel distance, increased membership, and rising costs, however, caused the discontinuance of that tradition. One regular meeting each year, currently in the spring, is designated as Presidents Night when the Association honors its previous presidents. The Annual Meeting, also held in the spring, closes the association year which runs usually from October through May/June. This occasion historically was held at the Framingham Country Club in Framingham, MA, but the increased membership necessitated larger facilities. Beginning in 1986, this meeting has been held in various places.
Initiated in 1990 was the Past Presidents Achievement Award — a gift from the Association to the person of a qualifying company who achieved the highest aggregate test score in earning the International Claim Association’s professional designation of Associate in Life and Health Claims (ALHC). This award has since been expanded to include the person of a qualifying company who achieved the highest aggregate test score in earning the International Claim Association’s professional designation of Fellow in Life and Health Claims (FLHC)
The new millennium brought new progress, increased membership, and increased meeting attendance. Membership increased to 265 members in the 2008/2009 fiscal year. The number of meetings increased from four to six annually and Portsmouth, NH and Chelmsford, MA were added as meeting sites. Meeting attendance averaged 140 during the 2008/2009 year. During 2009/2010, interest in the association continued with almost 900 members and guests attending meetings.
In October 2003 the Association developed its own website: www.neclaimassociation.org . In the summer of 2003 the Association also introduced a Distinguished Service Award (DSA) Program. This program, designed to motivate members to participate and to recognize and commend active members for their involvement has encouraged ongoing improvements to the NECA.
The Association is proud that since its original founding, 10 of its former presidents were also presidents of the International Claim Association. These former NECA presidents include: Edward D. Millea (Equitable Life Assurance Society), Willard E. Hein (State Mutual Life Assurance Company), John W. Ayer (New England Mutual Life Insurance Company), Walter T. May (Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company), Lawrence B. Gilman (John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company), Alfred S. Hammond (State Mutual Life Assurance Company), Charles N. Snow (National Life Insurance Company), Carroll D. Smith (Paul Revere Life Insurance Company), James F. Adams (Paul Revere Life Insurance Company) and Steve F. Allen (Trustmark Insurance Company). NECA member at large Curtis B. Wilbanks (Connecticut General Life Insurance Company) also served as a president of the International Claim Association.