Actually, very well, thank you. Professionals in the insurance industry were able to pivot relatively smoothly to remote work and take advantage of the digital platforms available to keep in constant contact with clients as quarantine and safer-at-home orders were put in place. Five months later, the industry continues to deliver outstanding service and the insurance products commercial and personal clients need.
Virtual Tech Comes to the Forefront
This is not to say there haven’t been a few bumps along the way, including getting the right technology in place for newbies working remotely such as video-conferencing tools for customer-facing conversations as well as having a live person available for phone calls during work hours to address clients’ requests and inquiries. Agents have had to be on hand to field calls about coverage, claims, and insurance payments. Of course, those with robust digital platforms in place are able to provide clients with the ability to perform many transactions online, making it easier for customers to take care of business whenever and wherever they want. In fact, a survey by EY shows that found that 80% of customers are interested in utilizing digital and remote channel options for various insurance functions and transactions. This has only surged in the wake of COVID-19.
These virtual capabilities will remain in place well after the pandemic is over. Remote work will also continue to a large part, as it’s “working” well for many professionals across the industry. Indeed, it’s anticipated that remote work will remain the norm at many firms, with some insurers already thinking about workforce models that combine a new mix of remote and on-site employees.
While face-to-face meetings are likely to make a comeback for retail agents and their local clients, video conferences in lieu of sales calls between agents, program managers, wholesalers, and carriers will continue to take a front seat. It’s less expensive and not as time-consuming to “meet and greet” and nurture a relationship virtually. Zoom and online collaboration apps have made this possible and replaced in-person meetings.
Working with insurance underwriters has also evolved during the pandemic. For example, cyber specialists Beazley launched an online booking system to facilitate secure virtual appointments and enable the sharing of documentation between brokers and underwriters. Brokers are able to view underwriter availability, book a meeting time, upload an agenda and documents in advance and view all of their scheduled meetings with Beazley underwriters. The platform not only aims to improve service during social distancing but plans are also in the works to provide long-term support as the market adapts to a more efficient and flexible model. Beazley says the current work environment constraints offer an opportunity to invest in making virtual interactions with brokers slicker and more efficient with expanded functionality and features.
Keeping Employee Morale Up
Many in the industry during this time have instituted weekly “happy hours” (with and without drinks) to keep employees connected and morale high, particularly when the pandemic first began. One company prepared 30-minute weekly interactive webinars on gratitude, habits, goal-setting, and other personal development topics. Others are dispatching gift certificates to local food delivery services like Door Dash or Grubhub so workers can enjoy a company-sponsored working lunch or treat even while tuning in to a conference or Zoom call from home. Whether this will continue post-pandemic remains to see, even with remote work continuing for many companies. There have been many changes during what we now refer to as our “new normal,” with the insurance industry adapting quickly. The biggest lasting change will be the long-overdue embracing and adoption of digital capabilities and the benefits they provide to the industry and those we serve – from facilitating the insurance application process to settling claims more quickly, and significantly enhancing the customer experience.