With the lockdown still broadly in effect across the UK after almost 2 months, how have those working in the insurance industry adapted during, what key challenges are they facing, and where do we see the future of the industry heading? We’ve been listening closely to our clients’ concerns, watching webinars, and keeping up-to-date with the latest news to gauge the current state of the market.
Adapting to working from home
While a number of insurers and organisations across the industry already allowed for flexible working before the lockdown came into effect, the stay at home orders presented a number of challenges on a size and scale never seen before. Undoubtedly one of the biggest obstacles at the beginning was the logistical challenge of getting equipment to staff, with a large amount of employees unable to work from home effectively without additional screens or newer devices than their outdated laptops. Without an office and the opportunity to interact face-to-face, organisations have turned to Zoom, Microsoft Teams and WebEx (amongst other apps) to carry out both internal and external meetings. Taking into account the impact upon mental health that this pandemic has had, we’ve heard from several insurers who are conducting daily wellness breaks and weekly surveys to check in with their teams and alleviate some stress where possible.
What are the key challenges?
Beyond the logistical challenges of working from home and the impact upon staff, those working in the industry share some key concerns and challenges as a result of the lockdown’s impact upon business. One of the biggest concerns is undeniably customer relationship management, with face-to-face interactions with brokers impossible and no staff in the office to pick up the phone – insurers are turning to technology. While many are using video conferencing apps to conduct client meetings, some insurers have also partnered with insurtechs to launch broker portals. There is also increased interest in chat bots, amongst other tools, as the industry experiences a boom in tech solutions to help solve the key issue of customer management. Similarly, in Lloyd’s, use of the electronic placement system PPL has increased almost four-fold since the market closed.
Another key concern for many firms has been solvency, with the pandemic causing the cancellation of events, loss of income, and general all-round disruption, Lloyd’s has said it expects to pay out £2.5bn to £3.5bn in coronavirus-related claims alone. Despite this daunting prospect, we’ve seen insurers taking steps to support their clients – in particular restaurants who are changing to takeaway or delivery services, by offering free policy extensions and motor insurers offering refunds and premium holidays as drivers stay at home
What will the long-term impact be?
Looking further afield, the impact of coronavirus on the insurance industry is likely to have lasting effects, particularly in sectors such as travel insurance. It is possible that we may see a marked change in the product itself, with suggestions it could be based on usage, or include additional features some insurtechs offer, such as online doctors, included within their cover. Despite the devastating short-term effects, it is clear this pandemic has highlighted to millions of consumers the value of travel insurance. There is, therefore, potentially an opportunity for the industry to pivot and take advantage of changing attitudes towards travel insurance and disruption products moving forwards.
With a number of countries in Europe ending their lockdowns, many across the industry are already preparing for a ‘new normal’ when it comes time to return to the office. There is a strong sense of inevitability that things will be different, with predictions that the ‘new way of working’ may become a hybrid of working in the office and working remotely. To prevent the spread of the coronavirus in offices, demand for plexiglass panels and other safety precautions has also grown as organisations prepare to return to work with social distancing in place.
Preparing your office
If you need help preparing your office to ensure it is safe for returning staff, we have a range of solutions and floor markings available to promote social distance messaging while reinforcing your brand.