Over the past few months, workers have rearranged to work remotely, but it is not a new concept at all. According to Global Workplace Analytics, there was a 159% increase in remote work insurance in the USA between 2005 and 2017.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, more than two-thirds of US companies allowed employees to work remotely (occasionally) for valid reasons. The new was the struggle to survive and thrive at the time of a pandemic, with most employees working remotely.
Remote working allowance might seem like great relaxations to employees who usually struggle to reach their workplaces; however, it brings new types of hurdles. The feeling of isolation, task planning/time-scheduling issues, and lack of communication are some of the common challenges you might be facing while working from home or other places.
Professionals working in insurance are also dealing with a series of obstacles coming their way due to sudden/complete/partial shift to remote operations. Amid all this, proper insurance agency management is highly required to improve the overall situation. According to the Automattic and experts, In the context of COVID-19, most insurance companies are at Level 1, having smartphones, email, and calls for meetings, leaving some items by the time they are working remotely or Level 2, this incorporates companies shifting processes online, with having videoconferencing and maintaining office hours regularly.
The companies that are taking advantage of the virtual environment, investing in specialized equipment suitable for remote working, striving for real-time collaboration, are at Level 3. Companies, at Level 4, are the ones that are also considering work distribution opportunities, where flexible working hours are acceptable as there is transparency in expectations from workers and how the deadlines will be met. Level 5 companies are competent at working remotely and understand that growing through the other four levels brings better results than in-house working.
Difficulties Insurers Face Adopting Remote Work Insurance
While shifting to remote work, lack of appropriate policies and procedures can lead to terrible consequences. To get nearer to the actual situation, here are some challenges of working remotely, according to the people who practice it in the insurance industry; let’s read what they say.
1. It was harder to explain to clients in the beginning
Our insurance agency has done okay through the pandemic, mostly because we have built referral relationships over the years. At this point, nearly everyone in our network knows that we are working remotely. In March, it was harder to explain this to clients, now it’s a fact of life, and they get it.
Thank You Chris Castanes, President of Surf Financial Brokers
2. Difficult to sell
It is very difficult in the sense of reaching out to the client. The simple reason being insurance is an intangible product sold to a person or organization in return of a premium. There is no actual exchange of two commodities. So when someone selling an intangible product staying at home, it gets difficult to reach out and gain the trust of customers.
It becomes much more difficult to sell, as we are not face-to-face with the customer and cannot express our emotions. Nowadays, all the meetings are online, and it has become much more difficult to crack a deal.
Thank You Terry Michael, Business Development Manager at Terrna
3. Managing data security is a big challenge
Since the onslaught of the Coronavirus Pandemic, many companies have had to pivot and increase the number of employees they have working remotely. While the transition to greater work from home assignments benefits employees since telecommuting can lower auto insurance rates, the shift can present some challenges for the employers. And that is especially true for insurance companies.
Since insurance companies deal with a significant amount of sensitive data, they must ensure that all of their employees are equipped to transfer information securely via VPN or VDI. If an insurance company was not previously set up with a robust and adequate enough e-business and cybersecurity platform, it will have to make a substantial upfront investment to allow their employees to continue conducting business safely.
The cost of upgrading and maintaining a secure e-business operation may be a bit pricey for an independent insurance company; however, it is a lot less costly than the risk of being fined and/or sued for comprising the privacy of your clients.
Thank You Schimri Yoyo, Financial advisor at Auto Insurance
4. Remote working will be difficult, initially
Public-facing life insurance companies or sales organizations are being forced to work remotely due to COVID-19 public health restrictions. Working remotely will be difficult in the first two weeks of the lockdown until new workflow procedures are standardized and implemented. In our experience, the level of difficulty will decrease each day as you get used to the telesales process versus face-to-face life insurance sales.
We have transitioned to 100% telesales from a combination of face-to-face selling and telesales. Our new sales process was a direct response to government mandates regarding social distancing. These telesales process doesn’t involve any personal interaction, which is safer for our clients and sales agents. However, it is a convenient and stress-free way to purchase life insurance.
5.The requirement of next level communication skills and tools
Transitioning to remote work has been a relatively easy shift for some — unfortunately, it hasn’t been as easy for all. Most jobs weren’t made to be done in the comfort of our own homes, making the change a rather complicated one. However, many of the basics remain the same. Even though insurance companies would prefer to avoid remote work, the transition can still be completed.
Moving forward, employees for various insurance companies will have to take their communication skills to the next level. Phone, email, and video calls are now the primary mediums to communicate with clients and other potential prospects. Employees need to be more careful than ever when choosing their words when speaking to clients and provide extra details to ensure they’re painting the clearest picture.
6. We were worried about in-person medical exams
As the owner of an insurance brokerage in Manhattan, I have not found it difficult to work remotely. Our clients have been happy to discuss their options by video conference, phone, or email. Most clients have the tools to electronically sign and return paperwork, and if not, we send them their paperwork by FedEx.
We were worried about in-person medical exams, but several insurance companies are now offering a virtual application process, where clients can do a phone interview instead of the traditional medical exam. One activity that was restricted for me was in-person networking with other advisors. I’ve replaced those in-person meetings with Zoom coffee dates, evening Zoom-tails, and a virtual weekly networking group.
Thank You Erin Ardleigh, founder of Dynama Insurance
7. Hurdles for public-facing companies
Some of the challenges that public-facing companies such ours have to hurdle during this period include:
Visibility: When clients have gotten used to face-to-face interaction when it comes to entrusting us with their documents, data, and financials, it can be difficult to convince them that online communication can still work.
Security: Clients would often ask us how secure are our online transactions, so they feel better when sending files and important documents.
Work-life balance: Our staff tends to work more when on a remote setup because they lose track of time when too much work is on their plate.
Thank You Michael Hammelburger, CEO at The Bottom Line Group
8. It is challenging for some, not for all
I think it can be difficult for people who have mastered their skills in a face to face setting. You may find a shift in power (for lack of a better word) to those people who do better in a remote setting.
I don’t think the business itself will struggle. I think younger people more adaptable and flexible to work in a modern, remote world will find that they can move ahead in leaps and bounds, leaving us old people who think we know what we are up to in the dust. Certainly a time for a change. If you don’t embrace it, expect to be lost in the back of the pack.
Thank You Andrew Taylor, Director, Net Lawman
9. Trouble Earning a Living
Insurance carriers serve as a manufacturer of products. They typically handle everything from underwriting to policy administration in house. These administrative positions are faring well as they transition to working remotely.
Sales, on the other hand, have been primarily out of the house. Without face to face engagement, many insurance agents and brokers are having trouble earning a living. It’s a turning point for the insurance industry as carriers seek ways to digitize their product buying journey.
Thank You Jonathan Fritz CEO of Noexam a Digital Life Insurance Agency
10. The need to build a secure digital ecosystem
Public-facing companies have been forced to transition into a work from home setup in order to keep their employees safe. Businesses like those who are in the insurance industry are one of those companies. In my own opinion, I don’t think that it’ll be hard for these companies. Working from home is a key element in the new normal for any industry. With efficient design and well-thought safeguards, working remotely will not pose any significant risk. Data can be shared securely through VDI/VPN. Although companies will be most likely to invest in building a secured digital ecosystem.
As long as public-facing companies are well prepared and well educated about the changes that need should be done, working from home would not be difficult.
Thank You Matt Scott, Owner of Termite Survey
11. Data security and compliance management are required
Supporting a remote workforce can be easy if the right preparation and resources are in place. The transition to move a public-facing company, like insurance, to a fully remote work environment takes meticulous planning from equipment, network access, and process workflows to detailed data security and compliance measures.
Data security and compliance management drive our organizational structure, business priorities, and it is an ongoing process. If you handle customer data, you probably have these priorities at the forefront of your business as well. To ensure they are running properly with a remote work environment is the key to success. Procedural, physical, and electronic safeguards are imperative to make sure the highest levels of data security are in place no matter where your employees are working from.
Key considerations include:
(1) Providing employees company monitored equipment
(2) Protected remote connections with full network access
(3) Management oversight and open communication to direct reports and teams.
These are a few factors that support employees in being productive in a remote work environment.
Given the dramatic and rapid shift in the environment, your clients expect that your employees are working remotely while giving them the assurance that your organization has fully implemented the data security measures required to manage their data and that data security is a top priority. The ultimate outcome is to continue providing excellent customer service while working remotely.
Public-facing companies had a real short period for the massive move – from office to home, for employee safety. Yes, it was tough in the beginning, but for everyone. Now, it should not be difficult for insurance companies with the ample availability of technological tools to carry out operations, and a policy covering clear work-related guidelines for both office premises and remote workplaces. Remote work insurance is slowly becoming the new normal for all.
Besides, insurance agencies and carriers may also consider taking advantage of insurance back-office support. In the past few months, we have been supporting our insurance clients addressing many of such problems discussed above. We, at Insurance Support World, have the required experience to efficiently fulfill your operational requirements as we are working remotely since 2008. Let’s talk more about our insurance outsourcing services. Feel free to call us at +1 6466882821 or send an email at [email protected].Talk To Our Experts