Deloitte – Potential implications of COVID-19 for the insurance sector
Executive summary :
How the coronavirus outbreak may impact insurers operationally and economically
COVID-19 is impacting the insurance industry in multiple ways—from employee and business continuity issues to client service considerations to the financial outlook. Here are some key issues insurers face and potential action steps they could take.
Insurers are responding to the widening COVID-19 outbreak on multiple fronts—as claims payers, employers, and capital managers. Each has its own distinct challenges, not just for the insurance industry, but for the economy and society at large.
However, the most immediate concern for insurers is protecting the health and safety of employees and their distribution partners in the agent/broker community as they strive to maintain business continuity. Like the commercial policyholders they serve, insurers are being challenged to review and update their crisis management plans and take steps to continue operations with a minimum of disruption to clients.
Safety and business continuity
If they haven’t already done so, insurers should consider establishing cross-functional, emergency decision-making teams to coordinate the organisation’s response, set new safety protocols, and assure quicker action as conditions continue to evolve. A comprehensive communications system should also be in place to keep employees, distributors, and clients fully informed about the status of business continuity plans and instructions on how to remain personally safe.
One of the biggest challenges could be enabling alternative work arrangements for insurance company employees if needed to protect staff and adapt to possible office access restrictions, all while assuring business continuity.
Emphasis on efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 may mean enabling insurance company staff—from actuaries to underwriters to claims managers—to work offsite, most likely from home.
Insurers should ascertain whether employees can access necessary files and conduct business from remote locations. In addition, chief information security officers (CISOs) may need to establish new cybersecurity protocols to permit the safe exchange of confidential information among employees connecting from outside the office.
Many organisations are setting policies around remote access to support social distancing. As companies move toward remote protocols, chief information officers, chief technology officers, and CISOs should ensure that offsite workers have access to the following technology capabilities:
- A laptop or desktop computer, preferably equipment issued by the company
- A virtual private network to securely and remotely connect to critical business applications
- Collaboration tools to help with audio, video, and screen-sharing
- An adequately equipped and staffed IT support team to answer employees’ questions and help them continue to do their jobs remotely
Even more to consider
Insurers may have additional circumstances to consider to accommodate claims adjusters, who often need to travel to perform their jobs—both locally and to more distant locations. That could be problematic with the COVID-19 outbreak. What if an adjuster needs to go onsite to examine a claim for commercial or personal property damage, and one of the policyholder’s family members or an employee who interacts with the adjuster is infected with COVID-19?
To avoid such circumstances, insurers may have to take additional safety steps such as setting new protocols for in-person interactions with claimants or requiring claims to be investigated from the office or an alternative remote location where possible— even those that normally require site visits.
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