Life insurance is an industry where the acronym flourishes. Indeed, so thick is the industry with acronyms that sometimes it seems as if you need to fight your way with a machete through a forest of kudzu. What brings this to mind is the story we reported on last week about talks going on between LIMRA and LOMA about their possibly merging. Once we got tipped off about what was going on, we naturally started to ruminate about what the new organization would be called.

I opted for LOMRA. Not only does it have a certain lilt, a certain je ne sais quoi, but because it maintains the LOM of LOMA and the MRA of LIMRA, it is likely to cause the least amount of disruption and confusion among those who follow the peregrinations of associations.

Another possibility that was floated was LIMA, about which a party who shall remain nameless said, “like the capital of Peru.” Perhaps. But when I see LIMA, I think bean. I think a lot of other people would think bean too. And while it’s not the worst association to have I have to wonder if a new life insurance association would want to be associated with it. LIMA, therefore, does not get my vote.

Then, too, I don’t even want to go near things like LIOMA. Ugh!

It could just be, however, that I tend to take my acronymic mergers a bit too literally. There is no law that says the name of a new association created by the merger of two former associations has to replicate as much as possible the former identities of those associations.

A grand instance of being flummoxed in this regard happened a few years ago when the Health Insurance Association of America and the American Association of Health Plans decided to merge.

So, here you had HIAA and AAHP. Jamming the two acronyms together didn’t seem to hold much promise. It was like picking up letters in Scrabble and getting that sinking feeling. Four a’s, two h’s, a p and an i. And unlikely as it seemed, HIPAA was already taken.

But while the English language may not be terribly fond of words that have double a’s, life insurance acronyms don’t seem to mind. So it might have been possible to come up with HPAA as the final choice. Fortunately, this was not the case.

What was the final choice, however, was AHIP, short for America’s Health Insurance Plans. This proved to be inspired since it exhibited the newly enlarged inclusiveness and embrace of the merged organization.

In the pages of this week’s issue you’ll find another area that is heavy with acronyms–the charitable giving discipline. Get ready for CRUTs and CRATs, CLUTs and CLATs. Then there’s my own favorite, NIMCRUTS. And recently I found out there were such things as FLIPCRUTS, which could be what dolphins use when they are charitably minded.

Getting back to LIMRA and LOMA, it’s interesting to note that these groups actually want to be known by their acronyms and not by what the acronyms were originally short for. In LIMRA’s case, that was the Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association and in LOMA’s, the Life Office Management Association.

To LIMRA and LOMA, I say good luck in your search for the perfect acronym. And I offer this piece of advice: Test saying the acronym as well as seeing how it looks in print. We had a report that one association was thinking about changing its identity to AARS. It turned out to be off by one letter, but we got a lot of laughs before we found what the real new acronym was.

Steve Piontek

Editor-in-Chief