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Twenty-plus insurance firms announce coronavirus response

Twenty-plus insurance firms announce coronavirus response | Insurance Business

Twenty-plus insurance firms announce coronavirus response

Insurance industry stakeholders, left and right, have implemented their business continuity plans in efforts to provide service with minimal disruption while at the same time ensuring staff safety and doing their part to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. In this third edition of what has become a business continuity series, Insurance Business UK brings you updates from over 20 companies. 

AEGIS London
The Lloyd’s managing agency, which conducted a successful business continuity test run on March 12, closed its office last week and started implementing a remote working policy for its entire workforce.

“We are confident that we can deliver business as usual to all our broker partners and their clients,” asserted AEGIS London on LinkedIn. “We will remain fully open for business and are ready to respond to the needs of all our partners. We are accessible via the usual phone numbers and emails.”

Allianz UK
“For the foreseeable future, Allianz Insurance offices in the UK are operating a working-from-home policy where possible,” noted the insurer on its website. “This is in line with government guidelines. We prepared for this situation by undertaking systems resilience testing and ensuring colleagues are equipped to operate remotely. Wherever possible, meetings are being held via phone calls and video conferencing.”

Allianz, however, acknowledged that there may be some delay in responding to customers during this unprecedented situation. At the same time it thanked policyholders for their patience while offering assurances that the company is doing all it can to maintain usual operations and service levels.

Arch Insurance (UK)
All of the firm’s 14 UK regional offices have been shut from March 18, with all efforts being made to help safeguard the health of employees and their families without affecting Arch’s ability to conduct business. Meanwhile contact details of Arch branch managers are available online. 

“We will maintain normal working hours and all Arch staff are equipped to work remotely to ensure that the high standards of customer service that you currently receive are maintained,” said the specialist underwriting agency on its website.

“Please continue to liaise with your usual representatives at Arch via all normal communication channels – where possible, landline numbers will be rerouted to connect to the mobile number of the individual you are seeking to contact. Our staff can also be available for video conference calls, as required.”

“During this unprecedented time, Argo Group is working hard to limit disruption to customers,” stated the international underwriter, which described itself as “ready and able” to continue business as usual. “There is currently no impact to normal customer service operations. Argo is committed to providing the products and services our partners and clients are accustomed to, even as we take steps to ensure the safety of our employees.”

The Bermuda-headquartered insurance group has instructed its teams to work from home for the foreseeable future, restrict all international travel, and limit domestic travel until further notice.

“Lloyd’s of London has closed their underwriting room,” Argo went on to say in its update, “therefore, our Syndicate underwriters will be trading remotely and will either utilise PPL (Placing Platform Limited) as the main placement method or revert to the Lloyd’s emergency trading protocol, which has been distributed by Lloyd’s recently.”

Aviva UK
“Following the government’s decision to close schools until further notice, and guidance on home working, we’re implementing a business plan to continue to serve our customers,” announced the UK operations of British giant Aviva on its website without providing further details.

“However, you may experience longer waiting times when calling us. We’re really sorry; we’re working hard to get to everyone, but this is a really busy time right now. You can manage your account online and through the MyAviva app or you can email us.”

“My thoughts go to all those affected by the virus, either directly or indirectly,” said AXA Group chief executive Thomas Buberl in a statement posted on LinkedIn last week. “Unfortunately, a few of our employees have been infected. We are doing everything we can to support them and their families and I wish them all a prompt recovery.”

According to the CEO, the French insurer has adapted its response to the pandemic by increasing travel restrictions, limitation of events and gatherings, prevention and awareness around basic protective measures, as well as accelerating remote working.

Buberl – who believes we will need patience, solidarity, and perseverance at this time – added that AXA has reinforced its partnership with the Institut Pasteur to support the taskforce set up to accelerate the research on the diagnosis and treatment of the virus.

“We all share the responsibility to do what we can to reduce the spread of COVID-19 within our local communities,” stated the London-headquartered enterprise on LinkedIn. “For this reason, Beazley employees are now working from home.

“Our priority is to continue providing a strong and consistent service. As a business, we are very well set up to work remotely and have the technology in place to continue operating. Your usual Beazley contacts are on hand or visit our website.”

Brit Insurance
The whole workforce of the UK-based firm, which has tested its systems for the eventuality, is operating remotely until April 06.

“At Brit, we are deeply committed and focussed on the health of all of our employees and their family members as well as our services to partners, brokers, and clients,” said the insurance company in a LinkedIn post. “Therefore, we have asked all our employees to work from home as a precautionary measure...”

Brit added: “We can confirm all our staff at Brit have the ability to work from home via laptops, so continuity of service will continue. Underwriting can be managed through PPL, Whitespace, and reinsurance trading platforms, and both underwriters and claims staff can be contacted by email or phone (please refer to the Brit App should you require contact details).”

The global specialty (re)insurer has asked its entire UK roster to work from home for at least two weeks from March 16. In a release, it said: “Canopius does not have any confirmed case of coronavirus within any of our offices. Rather, we have decided that we must act now to ensure we can continue working safely and seamlessly as a business, and our primary interest is in protecting our people and their families.

“It’s a value judgement for everyone and we would rather be accused of acting too early than too late. While our offices and boxes are closed, Canopius is still open for business – we recognise it is a different way of working, but we have the tools in place to continue to offer our clients the service levels they expect from us.”

Chubb UK
“During these unsettling times, we want to reinforce our commitment to clients and brokers,” declared Chubb’s UK leadership team online. “Insurance companies and brokers are needed more than ever, and while some Chubb colleagues are now on a staggered work-from-home schedule, rest assured we remain available to provide the same level of service you have come to expect.

“Chubb is closely monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus and continually reviewing guidance issued by government health authorities, including the Centres for Disease Control, the World Health Organisation, and local health authorities. We seek to minimise any disruption to our clients, agents, and brokers, while ensuring the safety of our employees.” 

Meanwhile clients and brokers of Chubb UK can continue to report claims in the usual manner.

The 650-strong line-up of the specialist motor insurer will now all be working from home. After ERS ran business continuity tests, it was the London head office that went ahead with the remote working arrangement first, followed by the Swansea operations centre.

“Enabling all our employees to be available remotely is a huge step, but we’re not out of the woods yet,” said sales & marketing director Jonathan Watson in an update on the ERS website. “Our operations performance will depend on coronavirus enforced absence in the coming weeks.

“However, as of today (March 20), our operations teams are performing well and in line with what we expect as business as usual, even though circumstances certainly aren’t usual! In short – we’re open for business and operating as normal.”

In an earlier update, chief executive Ian Parker noted: “Moving our Swansea operations to home-working is likely to impact our service levels, particularly call waiting times and quote turnaround times. If service levels are impacted, we will prioritise claims support over new business to ensure we maintain service levels for your existing policyholders.”

Finch Group
“Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our staff, clients, and insurance partners,” stated the commercial insurance broker on its website. “At the current time we are limiting face-to-face visits to clients or insurers. Unfortunately this also means we must limit clients visiting our offices.

“However, our team is still available to speak to and it’s very much business as usual. To get in touch, call your regular account executive or alternatively you can find contact details for all our branches at finchgroup.net/contact.”

UPDATE: On LinkedIn this morning (March 23), the company said its whole team is now fully working remotely.

Fiveways Insurance Group
Owner and managing director Nigel West wrote in a LinkedIn post: “Fiveways Insurance is committed to the safety of all of our customers as well as our staff members, and we have been following the advice from the government on a daily basis.

“Taking heed of the latest government advice, we will be taking measures to ensure that we act responsibly to reduce the risk to everybody. From Monday, March 23, we shall: 1) Close the office to all customers, clients, and visitors; 2) Our offices will be manned by half of our staff while the other half will work from home; 3) We will rotate the staff working from home with working from the office on a regular basis.”

West added that account handlers will still be reached via the same office telephone number. Contact details are provided on the company’s website.

H2i Insurance Brokers
“We want to reassure all of our clients that even though these are unsettling times, h2i insurance brokers have the capability of working remotely, so we can still continue to offer our services during this time,” said managing director Clive Harrison on LinkedIn.

“We have been working extra hours to respond as quickly and efficiently as possible to all calls and emails, while continuing to do our routine work. Keep safe and stay healthy!”

Legal & General
On its website, the British financial services group noted: “In the weeks since the initial emergence of the coronavirus, Legal & General has worked hard to ensure we are resilient in the face of the pandemic, and that our service to customers will be as little affected as possible.

“Over half of our workforce is able to work away from our offices, and we have ensured that our systems are able to withstand a sustained period of home working. We have absolutely prioritised essential services, including payments to our customers, who remain our top priority at all times.”

Legal & General also offered assurances that the company remains financially strong and well-capitalised and that its approach to underwriting and paying insurance claims is unchanged.

Liberty Specialty Markets (LSM)
“The health and wellbeing of our employees and their families is our primary concern as the situation regarding COVID-19 continues to evolve globally,” asserted LSM on its website. “We are monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak as part of our business continuity plans.

“To mitigate the risk of infection and to help contain the spread of the illness, our employees in the UK and continental Europe are currently working from home. Rest assured we remain committed to meeting your needs and we have remote access to systems to receive submissions, quote, bind remotely and to manage claims, so please continue to engage with your usual contacts.”

Markel International
“Our top priority is to ensure our employees and those we work with are as safe and healthy as possible and so, with that in mind, we have decided to close our office at 20 Fenchurch Street until further notice, with all employees equipped to work remotely,” announced the firm.

“Markel has been around for 90 years and has never been stronger than we are today. We’re open for business and confident in our ability to operate during this time. We are already managing customers’ claims and we are here to support you through this difficult time.”

According to the Markel Corporation division, trading will continue via existing contacts and through electronic means while ECF-submitted (Electronic Claim Files) claims will continue to be managed in the normal manner.

In a message on the company’s website, president and chief executive John Q. Doyle wrote: “Our client relationship managers are reaching out to clients, but please do not hesitate to call us with any questions or issues. You can also visit our pandemic risk hub for access to additional insights and resources regarding COVID-19.

“With regard to Marsh’s operations, we are taking guidance from local health authorities and making determinations as to what is best for our colleagues’ and their families’ personal safety. As a result, a number of our teams across the globe are working remotely or in staggered shifts in the office.”

Doyle said they have the capabilities and plans in place to efficiently make the transition, and that Marsh expects to maintain its level of service and ability to deliver valued insurance placement and risk advice.

MS Amlin
Until further notice, the majority of MS Amlin’s global offices are closed, with staff working from home where appropriate based on relevant government guidance. All international travel has also been banned, and neither will the company attend or host large events.

“Our staff are able to work effectively from home, as well as other locations if they need to,” noted MS Amlin Underwriting Ltd chief executive Tom Clementi, MS Amlin AG CEO Chris Beazley, and MS Amlin Insurance SE boss Rudy Benmeridja in a joint statement. “Very recently we conducted extensive stress tests in our major hubs, to ensure the integrity of our technology, as well as our operational effectiveness is not compromised by having large numbers of staff working remotely.

“These tests have been successful and we are confident that we will be able to operate as close to ‘business as usual’ as possible, even for an extended period of time. For those of you who trade with us through Lloyd’s of London, please be assured our underwriting teams will continue to trade while working from home, in line with Lloyd’s emergency trading protocol during this period.”

NFU Mutual
“As a mutual, our members are at the heart of everything we do, and we want to reassure you of the plans in place ensuring you continue to receive the personal and attentive service that you know us for,” said NFU Mutual in an update.

“We are working closely with agents local to you, who are busy implementing a series of measures within their businesses aimed at maintaining service levels to customers while supporting the welfare of their staff. The welfare of our own employees is also a critical concern, so we too are implementing a series of measures enabling our staff to work from home, as far as possible, while limiting the impact on our customers.”

Yutree Insurance Ltd
“With the escalating concern around coronavirus/COVID-19, and in line with UK government guidance, we are writing to let you know that many of our staff will be working remotely until further notice,” said managing director Kevin Hancock on Yutree’s website. “They will continue to be contactable on their normal landline and/or mobile numbers.

“We’ve prepared for this situation and are confident we can continue working with you with minimal disruption. That said, we’re mindful that there may be unanticipated interruptions during this time and ask for your understanding.”

Meanwhile the commercial insurance brokerage and underwriting agency has recommended the postponement of face-to-face meetings in favour of virtual ones or calls.

“As ever,” added Hancock, “we look forward to working with you through these unprecedented times and hope for a speedy return to business – and life – as usual.”

Zurich UK
“The UK government has announced stringent measures to help curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) restricting travel, enforcing working from home and support for businesses financially,” noted the Swiss insurer on its UK website. “In response, Zurich has asked all colleagues to work from home until further notice and are using the latest technology to connect with one another and importantly to trade with our brokers and customers, ensuring we are open for business as usual.

“We are uniquely positioned as much of our business already operates to a fully flexible manner and fortunate to be a financially strong and resilient business, both globally and in the UK. Our business continuity plans are activated; we have also tested key essential services, including all our claims and underwriting systems and are confident that we have the right arrangements in place.”

Separately, employees of insurtechs Digital Risks and FloodFlash are working remotely as well, based on their LinkedIn posts.

Meanwhile the business continuity plans of Aston Lark, BC Underwriting, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance London, Bollington, Confused.com, Convex Group, Direct Insurance Group, Ecclesiastical, FOCUS Oxford Risk Management, Gallagher, IFM Insurance, the Lloyd’s Market Association, Lloyd’s of London, the Managing General Agents’ Association, Open GI, PIB Group, Pikl, QBE, SCOR, and Tasker Insurance Group are outlined in previous Insurance Business UK articles.