The Coronavirus (Covid-19) has impacted almost every single part of our lives, and it’s left many independent insurance agency owners unsure how to proceed. In this blog, we will review how you can handle Covid-19 in your insurance agency. We state this upfront: everyone must do what is specifically best for them, their insureds and their team members. This is your agency’s choice, but we wanted to get out some strategies to assist you as quickly as possible in making difficult decisions. We encourage agency owners to use the comment section of this blog to post how they are handling a difficult situation. In addition, please reference and follow any State, Federal and local regulations.
Creating a Safe Work Environment
For many team members, coming to work may suddenly not feel very safe. For agencies with many team members and/or walk-in business, each and every person may seem like a carrier. We ask that everyone remain calm and treat each other neighborly. Here are a few strategies that your agency can take to create a safer workplace:
- Use a simple wave rather than a handshake. Due to social distancing, a wave is still a very friendly way to say hello without physical contact. If you are uncomfortable or think clients may take this the wrong way, place a sign in the lobby.
- Hand washing for 20 seconds (or 2 Happy Birthdays songs) should be discussed and posted. You can place signs in the bathrooms and kitchens. If you want to have some fun, place these top hand-washing songs near all sinks and pick a song of the day.
- Practice safe sneezing, and remember to stay calm when someone sneezes or coughs. It’s also allergy season. Send this video around to share with everyone appropriate sneezing etiquette.
- There’s no time like the present to practice cleaning and disinfecting the office twice per day. Don’t forget to clean things like:
- Your keyboard
- Have (when you can find them) hand sanitizer and wipes available for use.
- If you feel it necessary you can shut your office down to not allow walk ins and or have people work from home.
For many people, Covidmania has broken out. Now is not the time to borrow problems from the future. We need to take one day at a time. In addition, we also should be cautious not to judge other people in their views or plans around the virus. You may not have all the facts, and it’s important as an agency you stay together rather than judge or make assumptions.
While we need a heightened awareness of the seriousness of the virus, we shouldn’t assume that a sneeze is the virus. Practice sanitary safety precautions and keep calm.
School/Day Care Closures
This is the one that is perhaps the most concerning in handling workforce issues. It’s difficult for an agency to close. However, with mainly working moms at the customer service frontline, it’s a good time to address the issue.
- Your agency may need to review the policy on working from home, if that setup is possible.
- People may need to take shifts to keep the agency open and work together to get through a possible 2-4 week school and daycare closure.
- Agency team members need to investigate and evaluate all options for childcare, including other family members, spouses and friends that can help lessen the load.
- In the future, after this pandemic is over, it will be a good time to create a plan of attack for these situations.
Taking Cash Payments
While I know many agencies that do need to take cash payments, we should review the safest protocol for handling cash during a pandemic. Here are some tips from Bankrate on handling cash transactions in your business.
Now is also a great time to encourage clients to use electronic methods of communication such as:
- Getting on EFT/Pay In Full
- Practicing Calling In Payments
While we are in trying times, this is also a great way to train your clients for future natural disasters.
In The Event Someone Is Sick
This is obviously the worst-case scenario. In the event you or anyone in your family are feeling under the weather or have a fever, it’s imperative that you stay home and seek medical treatment. Please do not ignore symptoms/signs or downgrade them.
We hope that this has given you some guidance and resources to make the best choices for your agency.