The Weekly Thought

Remote Work in the Insurance Environment

At least half of my insurance career has involved some sort of “remote work,” beginning with my first professional job. This current version of “remote work” forced upon us by Covid-19 is actually the easiest because of the significant advances in technology that we are only now beginning to fully appreciate.

As a rookie claims adjuster for Liberty Mutual, my first insurance job, we were expected to be on the road every day except for a few hours on payday Friday’s every other week and one “day in the office,” every two weeks to file paperwork. Claims work was always outside of the office since that is where accidents occurred that required investigations and claims adjustment. We all had company cars, briefcases with recorders, cameras, notepads, road maps and checkbooks.

Missing back then were cell phones…not yet widely available. Pagers were in vogue! We got our assignments thrice daily from the dispatcher by calling in on pay phones. We actually saw people and places in person. Within 24 hours of a claims report, we investigated accident scenes on site-photographing the scene to preserve evidence, visited all the local police stations to obtain their reports, took recorded or written statements from claimants and witnesses in person and settled claims where possible by writing checks and getting releases face to face.

Later in my career I was a producer in a large regional agency. Although much work in the office was necessary, clients almost never visited our office. We saw them at their places. If we were in the office, we were not selling insurance!

My only times of being office bound were during my first time around as a consultant with my friends at Aldrich & Cox, then later with my M&T Bank family when I was Corporate Insurance Manager. This time around consulting with my associates at CIC Group, my partners invested in technology that, pre-Covid-19, we believed would allow us to work from anywhere. That sounded great, but we pretty much used it in our three physical office locations, until the government shutdown of economic activity.

Come just past St. Patrick’s Day in March 2020, the tech got its test. We made the decision for all of us to take our equipment, everything from computers and desk phones, to standing desks and chairs and we ventured off into the Covid-19 remote work world.

And guess what? It all worked! Not flawlessly, but the issues were really not much different than what we experienced while working in our offices.

Compared with a few decades ago, this time around of working remotely is a snap! If anything, it is much, much easier. Travel is no longer expected now that everyone has access to video conferencing. I actually find it easier to communicate internally with our staff as well as externally with clients, brokers and prospects using the technology tools available. Much more efficiency and productivity.

Whereas during my first remote go-around at Liberty we had to physically “push paper” on those infrequent days in the office, we now have full access to insurance documents and ease of communications electronically.

We are very fortunate in this industry to be able to assist clients with only a hiccup or two during the worst health emergency and lockdown we have experienced in over 100 years. Good thing too, since we are busier than ever these days!

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