This year has seen a dramatic shift throughout the world due to COVID-19. In some cases, these changes will play out for years to come, such as effects on economies, jobs, healthcare, mental and physical health, and more. While the pandemic continues to disrupt operating models across most industries, including the insurance industry, new realizations are coming to light in multiple ways. So, how do insurance agents engage with customers, how do they digitize their processes, and how do they remotely manage their workforce?
While most companies have done relatively well maintaining operations in these unprecedented times, the true test will come when they take steps to reinvent themselves in a post-COVID world. This crisis is inspiring people to buy online, manage teams and relationships remotely, and make critical business decisions with limited data.
While life insurance applications have seen a surge due to panic around the coronavirus, with some carriers reporting up to a 50-percent increase in monthly volume since February 2020, commercial and specialty insurance submissions are down. The impact COVID-19 has had on the entire value chain has been significant, given that the industry has not embraced new processes.
In light of all this change and disruption, the need is still the same for insurance agents: to adapt to this new distribution model in selling insurance post-COVID. Here’s what insurers need to be aware of moving forward.
Increased Importance of Data, Social Media, and Analytics
With social distancing norms in place, insurers are now relying on alternative data sources, such as historical medical records, lab reports, and data from pharmacies. Sales and marketing members have ramped up their efforts to analyze time spent on social networking platforms and streaming content behaviors to devise marketing plans, focusing on social media more, paid searches, and online ads.
Remote Work is Here for Good
While some businesses might welcome back their workforces to the office, the option to work from home is more than likely here to stay. Before COVID-19, companies were niche if they allowed their staff to work from home. Setting up widespread, home-based work environments to help the lack of systems, equipment, IT support staff, and security had never been considered before. Many companies had to amend client contracts and get approvals from the government before shifting employees to their homes. Now, insurers are course-correcting and making long-term plans for working from home and providing coverage for clients who are doing the same.
Shifting Consumer Behaviors Are Influencing New Models and Operations
Consumers have adapted to meet social, personal, and essential needs in response to COVID-19. The increase in video conferencing technology, such as Zoom and Skype, provides one example of such low-touch, digital, and distance adaptation. In the same vein, shopping habits have changed to highlight digital channels for purchase and after-sales service for insurance. The pandemic could increase awareness of the need for insurance, as customers recognize their current protection gaps.
Business Continuity Plans and Customer Service
Insurers are experiencing a push in call volumes, especially when it comes to claims. These include absence- and disability-related claims, general policy inquiries connected to regulatory changes, and issues involving premium refunds and discounts. Insurers are maneuvering around process prioritization, efforts to encourage customers to use online channels instead of live call-ins, and staff reorganization in this new normal.
About Irving Weber Associates
At Irving Weber Associates, Inc., we work with agents and brokers to access quality programs for various industries across the country. Our programs include specialty coverages that cater to those in the dry cleaning, laundry, restaurant, and grocery industries. For a detailed look at how we can safeguard your insurance services with a custom-tailored package, please contact our specialists today at (855) 764-7406.