Happy New Year – or is it?
Is 2022 just a repeat of 2021 and even 2020? Are we stuck in a loop like the movie “Groundhog Day”? Hopefully the year will eventually move forward as the pandemic gets under control as Omicron burns itself out and nothing replaces it. With the fast-spreading Omicron strain, we are now again forced back into lockdowns and stay home orders, like we saw a year ago. So the short-lived attempts to return to the office and engage with in-person meetings, has reversed itself. Were we really ready to go back to the way it was?
After two years of working from home and more time expected this year, did the workforce and productively suffer? Work studies have shown that productively has actually improved during the pandemic, so will this model be finally accepted? Most businesses have pivoted to working from home and managing via conference calls with Zoom or Teams. Employees have become proficient with digital communication and customers have also increased their confidence in their use. The largest credit card company Visa has seen usage increase, not only from on-line shopping but also the serious decline in use of cash for purchases – enough to change how credit cards are being modified for a more cashless society.
The insurance community has lagged behind in its adoption of digital technology but insurance customers are demanding more ways to obtain and pay for insurance. This has given rise to more use of digital technology by some insurance companies and brokers. Customers no longer need to come in to see their broker or agent and are comfortable dealing electronically. Does this reduce the need to have insurance offices fully open to the reduced number of customers? In-office traffic has certainly reduced during the pandemic and is likely not ever going to return to pre-covid levels. Do insurers need to have staff work from home or is a hybrid model of office/home the best practice?
Most businesses are involved with risk/benefits propositions. How much risk to take on and what would be the benefit. The last few years has tested their ability to accept risk. Insurers are risk assessment focused and should be able to keenly determine the risks they face in the continuing pandemic. The start of a new year is a good time to review the risk of operating a business and what can be done to reduce or transfer the risk. Businesses rely on their insurance broker or agent to assist them in this risk assessment but who do insurers and their sales force rely on?
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