Since the first informal gathering of its original founders, the OIAA recognized the value of connecting insurance adjusters across Ontario into one united association. The OIAA history began on February 11, 1931, when R.G. Mann of American Automobile, Thomas H. Bell of General Accident and Herman R. Magill of Employers’ Liability Insurance met to talk about establishing a “club of staff claims men” with mutual problems. They wanted their club to be a forum where they could share experiences and learn from each other. A little over a month later, on March 31, the inaugural dinner of this new “Ontario Insurance Adjusters Association” took place at Toronto’s Royal York Hotel. 90 members attended, coming from as far away as South Porcupine, Stratford and Niagara Falls.
Five years later, the OIAA’s official journal, Without Prejudice (WP) magazine, was launched. WPP began as a single sheet containing one advertisement and listing the entire membership. Over the years, WP has grown to be an award-winning publication that continues to be distributed free to all active and associate members.
For many years, the OIAA remained a male enclave with no mention of women connected with the Association. In 1965 the OIAA put forward a motion to amend its constitution in order to permit women who had either obtained their adjusting license or were members of the Claims Managers Association to become members. The motion was defeated. The decision even was supported in an editorial that appeared in the following issue of WP. In April 1972, however, the proposed amendments were put forward once again, and this time the motion carried unanimously. The new female members of the OIAA were announced that October, including Marg Preston of the Toronto TTC. In 1979, Marg Preston was elected the first woman president of OIAA.
The inclusion of women in the OIAA heralded the start of the Association’s “modern” history. By the late 1970’s, the OIAA had changed dramatically, with members numbering over 1,000. Prior to 1976 local chapters of the OIAA existed only as local claims associations and Toronto was the site of all official OIAA meetings, except for the out of town annual meeting. In 1977, however, a Reorganizing Committee suggested that chapters of the OIAA be formed. A short list of designated chapters were approved, with additional chapters courted and added in the years to come.
Over the years, the OIAA continued to look for more ways to provide members with networking social events, continuing education, industry recognition and support. There were many more “firsts” in the next couple of decades: The first OIAA golf tournament was held in 1978; the first annual bursaries presented by the OIAA in 1997. The first annual OIAA trade show/claims conference was held in February 1993 at the Metro Convention Centre. The annual Trade Show has since grown to become one of the industries most anticipated Trade Show/ Professional Development and Claims Conference. It has taken OIAA to new heights in terms of recognition and secured an important revenue stream for the Association.
The history of the OIAA has always mirrored the history of how auto insurance developed and changed in Ontario. So many of those who have served in the OIAA also were leaders in the community providing, guidance and direction to government, industry, and the general public. Without a doubt, members of OIAA through the decades have worked together to question, shape, change and develop claims adjustment and risk management services in Ontario —and will continue to do so in the years ahead.
Written from information provided by A Tradition to be Proud of: The History of the OIAA, Part 1,11, 111, and 1V, by Jim Cameron, Past President of the OIAA.