In the decade after the end of the Second World War there was a new spirit of co-operation sweeping across Europe. On a political level the two key organisations to emerge were the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) which was created in 1949 and the European Iron and Steel Community which was launched in 1951 and has since been transformed into the modern day European Union.
The insurance industry was similarly establishing new international organisations during the late 1940s and early 1950s and it was during a discussion at a meeting of one of the new bodies – the International hail Insurance Association – in October 1953 that Gaston Aubertin of L’Argus and Dr Hans-Heinrich Mohr of Versicherungs Wirtschaft first conceived the idea of an association of insurance publishers.
A year later, on 25 September 1954, six publications were represented at a meeting in Paris and agreed to form the Presse Internationale des Assurances which had at its heart the aim of providing for the rapid exchange of reliable information between member publications.
Founder members of the PIA and representatives at the first meeting
- L’Argus (France): Gaston Aubertin
- Versicherungs Wirtschaft (West Germany): Dr Hans-Heinrich Mohr
- Verenigde Verzekeringspers (Holland): Dr Arie de Bruijn
- Omnia (Belgium): René Licoppe
- Die Versicherungsrundschau (Austria): Herwig Obrecht
- Schweizerische Versicherungszeitschrift (Switzerland): Prof Peter Steinlin & Dr Hans-Rudi Suter
The first meeting discussed a range of other proposals, including the exchange of advertisements, job exchange placements for young journalists and the creation of a cultural programme that proved impossible to take any further. It did, however, agree that senior editors from the member publications should meet annually to discuss the exchange of information with the members taking it in turns to host the event. It also agreed that, where possible, there should be a specialist theme to the meeting. This has never become a regular feature of the annual meetings although recent years have seen more focus to the discussions. This year in London the recent EU enlargement and its implications for the insurance industry will feature as a half day seminar.
At the first meeting in 1954, Gaston Aubertin was elected a chairman of the PIA, a title that was changed to president in 1964. He continued in that role until 1974 and finally retired from L’Argus in 1979. His successor as president was another of the founding editors from 1954, Arie de Bruijn.
Through the 1950s and 1960s the association continued to expand with Forsikrings Tidende (Denmark) joining in 1957 and Sicurta (Italy) in 1957. In 1963, the present logo was adopted and the following year a formal set of statutes were adopted for the first time. At the same meeting, Riesgo (Spain) and The Review (United Kingdom) joined.
The membership then remained stable for ten years before Osiguranje I Priveda (Yugoslavia) was admitted as an associate member in 1973 before becoming a full member in 1976. Greece was next with Panagiotis Drakatos’s Private Insurance magazine joining in 1975 along with Bistositasi Szemle (Hungary) — this brought into the PIA’s ranks its first female editor, Eva Elbi. The following year Wiadomosci Ubezpieczeniowe (Poland) joined.
The membership then went through another period of relative stability, apart from the resignation of the Danish member in 1978. This stability was partly aided by the one member per country rule that the founders of the PIA had felt was important in the early years. This meant that applications for membership from some publications (including Post Magazine in the mid-1980s) were rejected because there was already a magazine from that country in membership.
This rigid approach started to lessen as a new wave of younger editors started to attend PIA meetings, in particular Jose Maestro from Spain and Roel Veldwijk from Holland, both of whom served as presidents of the PIA during the 1990s. They took over as president and vice-president respectively when the PIA met in Brussels in 1994 and set about extending the membership by inviting many more publications to join as associate members and building links with other organisations such as the Comité Europeen d’Assurances. After much debate, the one member per country rule was finally scrapped in 2003 and was replaced with a one country, one vote rule.
Presidents of the PIA
- 1954–1974: Gaston Aubertin, L’Argus (France)
- 1974–1980: Arie de Bruijn, Verenigde Verzekeringspers (Holland)
- 1980–1990: Herman Kranendonk, Verenigde Verzekeringspers (Holland)
- 1990–1994: Brando Battistig, Assicurazioni (Italy)
- 1994–1999: Jose Maestro, Actualidad Aseguradora (Spain)
- 1999–2000: Roel Veldwijk, VVP-Weekly (Holland)
- 2000–2002: David Worsfold, Post Magazine (United Kingdom)
- 2002–2007: Willem Vreeswijk, VVP-Weekly (Holland)
- 2007–2008 Raquel Gutiérrez, Actualidad Aseguradora (Spain)
- 2008–2011 Susana Pérez, Actualidad Aseguradora (Spain)
- starting 2011 Daniela Ghetu, PRIMM Publications (Romania)
The past ten years have seen a continual expansion of the membership, especially with the break-up of the old Eastern European states and the admission of the first member from outside Europe, the Insurance Research Letter from the United States of America. There are now 27 member magazines from 19 countries, including all the leading publications in the top European insurance markets.
Nearly all the members’ countries have hosted the annual meetings during the last 50 years, with this being the fifth time the PIA has visited the UK. Recent years have included visits to some of the new markets such as Slovakia and the Czech Republic, although the PIA first ventured into Eastern Europe in 1980 when it visited Zagreb and followed that with a meeting Warsaw six years later.
During the past 50 years, there have been many distinguished journalist and editors from across Europe who have served the PIA well and many of them have been honoured in recent years as Presidents of Honour or Members of Honour.