The following is an editorial by Alicja Grzadkowska, senior news editor at Insurance Business. To reach out to Alicja, email her at [email protected]
From new phishing scams that take advantage of coronavirus fears to many small and medium-sized businesses (who are also insurance buyers) feeling the pressure of staying afloat amid government-imposed shutdowns, there’s a lot to be worried about right now. With all of this bad news, which is accompanying higher numbers of confirmed cases and resulting deaths, it’s useful to recognise instances where insurers have done well during this crisis.
The first silver lining has been the response of some auto insurers as their policyholders leave their cars parked for the foreseeable future. In the US, companies that sell 82% of the auto policies in the country have announced refunds or credits to drivers worth more than $6.5 billion during the next two months, as reported by the Associated Press. Across the pond, the UK motor insurance industry is being urged to follow in these footsteps, while the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has already stressed that coverage will not be affected if policyholders use their vehicles for voluntary purposes during the pandemic. In Canada, insurers like Aviva Canada, Intact, and Desjardins, among others, have likewise offered auto insurance premium adjustments. In Australia, Youi has offered car insurance refunds, while in NZ, AA has frozen premiums and Tower Insurance has declared that it will not profit from COVID-19 with plans to refund claims savings by the end of May.
Of course, not all insurers are acting uniformly with respects to auto insurance refunds, but those that are providing this relief to policyholders during an already stressful time are setting an example for the rest of the industry and helping to boost its reputation.
Those insurers that aren’t going down this road may want to reconsider. After all, people are driving less while in lockdown so the number of insurance claims from accidents has also dropped “and those savings should be passed on to the public,” according to James Blackham, founder and CEO of By Miles. And with many people facing down the barrel of months without work and businesses already having to make tough decisions about laying off employees, it’s the least insurers can do, especially as many are supporting communities and non-profit organisations with monetary donations anyways.
Another bright spot amidst the coronavirus outbreak has been the extra mile that brokers and agents are going for their clients. Conversations with advisers have revealed that they’re staying in contact with policyholders as much as possible and sending out key information about various forms of assistance that governments and associations are offering respective industries.
Many are also providing crucial insight from insurer partners on how insurance coverage is being impacted by changes in businesses’ operations, namely the mass move to remote work and delivery services that companies have had to implement. Staying on top of these adjustments in coverages and claims processes isn’t easy, but brokers and agents have stepped up to the plate and helped their clients navigate this shifting landscape.
In times of crisis, brokers and agents are the insurance professionals who are on the frontlines, answering emails and phone calls from worried business owners, and, in this case, patiently addressing whether business interruption coverage will apply (and in most cases, it unfortunately won’t), while also dealing with the transformations in their own day-to-day operations. They deserve recognition for their work, especially as they juggle questions from clients who have had to close their companies’ doors for months with the evolving support that insurers are offering at this time, and also keep it together mentally and emotionally in a global pandemic – hardly an easy job.
As the crisis continues to unfold, brokers and agents have an opportunity to further underscore the value that they bring to the table by providing great customer service, in turn ensuring their roles stay relevant over the long-term.