A resource for businesses
The Path Forward
In March 2020, we established this dedicated hub as a business resource for our customers to help them manage day-to-day operations when navigating the growing risks associated with COVID-19. As the pandemic and responses to it evolve, we continue to provide content and resources here.
- How will COVID-19 developments impact and define the challenges ahead?
- How do businesses and their employees best move forward and adapt to the COVID-19 workplace?
- How do all of us participate in building a safer, more resilient future?
Business travel has suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, but many companies are resuming the practice. Here are some travel safety tips to consider.
Employer focus on mental wellness can help smooth transitions back to offices, retail businesses and other workplaces following COVID shutdowns.
The pandemic’s financial impact may require companies to reassess their risk management programs and commercial insurance coverage.
By Bart Shachnow, Sales Performance Director, Zurich North America
The coronavirus pandemic has significantly roiled the economic and financial landscape in the past 18 months. In all likelihood, your business has been impacted, in both small and big ways. Certainly, every company is facing its share of challenges and opportunities. That’s why it’s so important that you take the time to re-evaluate your selection and relationship with your insurance brokers and carriers.
Here are five points to consider when making that evaluation.
Risk management is your No. 1 priority
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, your business may have been enormously successful. Maybe it still is. Or maybe not.
If the pandemic has taught the world anything, it’s this: Random, catastrophic events can happen anytime and affect anyone or all of us.
No matter how successful you and your company are or have been, how good you are at executing and accomplishing your business goals and objectives, those objectives, and everything else you’ve accomplished, can be immediately disrupted and/or imperiled by an unexpected catastrophe, whether it is from a natural source (e.g., pandemics, tornadoes, floods) or man-made (examples include terrorism, management neglect or negligence, worker sabotage).
This is an argument for making risk management and the protection of your business from catastrophic loss exposures (in whatever form they appear) as your No. 1 planning priority. Another way to think about this is that risk management is an investment in your company, because the more robust and comprehensive your risk management program is, the more attractive your company will be to current and prospective executives, managers, rank-and-file employees and customers (as well as insurers — more on that later).
Insurance is not a substitute for a risk management program
Many businesses believe that having insurance for a particular risk (fire, auto accidents, cyber hacks) means you’re effectively protected. This is simply not true. Insurance is a component of an overall, effective risk management program. Effective risk management involves several components, including:
- The ability to identify and prioritize loss exposures
- Managing those exposures through loss avoidance; loss reduction (e.g., policies, procedures and practices that reduce or mitigate losses); loss retention (through self-insurance, deductibles, copayments and self-insured retentions) and transferring those risks that cannot be managed from these strategies to an insurance company
- Monitoring and changing the risk management plan when necessary
The only thing that’s constant is change, so your risk management and insurance strategy will very likely need to be revised, updated and modified regularly. Effective, robust risk management will also help you get more out of your insurance program.
Market yourself effectively to your insurance broker and carrier
In light of the coronavirus crisis, many insurance providers are currently reviewing their books of business. Many companies may no longer look the same now to insurance companies, for any number of reasons: For example, maybe they’ve laid off workers or shut down operations. Or maybe they’ve completely changed their business model and are offering new products and services in response to what is really a radically different business and economic environment.
Accordingly, you may need to re-market your company to your insurer(s). Whether you are working directly with your carrier or are working through an intermediary like a broker or agent, you will need to explain how your operations have (or have not) been impacted and the changes you have made.
Most importantly, be prepared to explain how your risk management program has been revised and adapted to your changed circumstances. Commercial insurers strongly consider the scope and extent of a company’s formal risk management program in underwriting decisions. And those decisions can strongly work in your favor in terms of policy terms, conditions and pricing.
Insurance buying decisions shouldn’t be just about price
I realize this might sound self-serving, coming from a representative of an insurance company. But the truth is that most customers base their insurance buying decisions primarily on the price, often failing to consider other important factors. Just look at any ad offering insurance on TV or the internet, where price is invariably focused on as the top priority.
Of course, the price you are offered and demand should be fair and competitive. But the adage may also apply: “You get what you pay for.” Top carriers and brokers provide significant value-added service that helps companies accomplish their objectives, both in terms of actual coverage as well as risk management services associated with safety, loss mitigation and prevention, claims handling, litigation management and corporate governance, to name a few. Again, view the selection of brokers and carriers as an investment in your business.
Another factor of concern is the financial well-being of the insurance carrier. What are its ratings from the major rating agencies and analysts? Well-managed insurers are more likely to provide you with the guidance you need and to be there for you at the ultimate moment of truth: when you file a claim.
Finally, consider a broker and insurer’s values in the selection process. What values are important to you? Is it an organization’s commitment to its own employees? To the community? To the environment? You’re entitled to know and, if it’s important to you, you should factor it into your insurance-buying decisions.
Be demanding of your brokers and carriers
The insurance brokerage and carrier market is highly competitive and most businesses are in a position to be selective. In addition to criteria I’ve already mentioned (like financial strength and core values), here are three considerations you should demand from your broker and carrier:
- They strive to understand your circumstances and needs. Every business is unique. Your broker and carriers will certainly have questions about your operations, activities, management, goals and objectives. Make sure your responses are complete and accurate and if questions are not asked that should be asked, point that out to them as well. This is like going to your doctor. Concealing information or not raising health issues of concern is problematic. Many patients don’t raise them because they fear the response. By the way, your brokers and carriers should also be able to show empathy, or evidence that they truly understand your business, your issues and concerns to your satisfaction.
- They are responsive. What do you need and when do you need it? Whether it’s risk management guidance, or policy servicing, make your expectations clear.
- It is easy doing business with them. Are your needs met in a timely and responsive manner? Are your phone calls or emails replied to on the same day? Are your brokers and carriers aligned and do they work effectively together? Is your overall and ongoing relationship with broker and carrier something that consistently meets and exceeds your expectations? If not, you should consider revisiting your broker and carrier relationships. Do not let your broker and insurer take your relationship for granted.
The pandemic has altered a great many things in our personal and professional lives. At the very least, it has underscored the need to protect one’s assets (personal and/or business) from catastrophic loss exposures. Hold your brokers and carriers to a higher standard by having them prove to your satisfaction that they can help you accomplish your objectives by safeguarding what you have built and accumulated.
The information in this publication was compiled from sources believed to be reliable and is intended for informational purposes only. All sample policies and procedures herein should serve as a guideline, which you can use to create your own policies and procedures. We trust that you will customize these samples to reflect your own operations and believe that these samples may serve as a helpful platform for this endeavor. Any and all information contained herein is not intended to constitute advice (particularly not legal advice). Accordingly, persons requiring advice should consult independent advisors when developing programs and policies. We do not guarantee the accuracy of this information or any results and further assume no liability in connection with this publication and sample policies and procedures, including any information, methods or safety suggestions contained herein. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any of this information, whether to reflect new information, future developments, events or circumstances or otherwise. Moreover, Zurich reminds you that this cannot be assumed to contain every acceptable safety and compliance procedure or that additional procedures might not be appropriate under the circumstances. The subject matter of this publication is not tied to any specific insurance product nor will adopting these policies and procedures ensure coverage under any insurance policy.
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