3 Areas Insurance Agencies Should Focus On as They Adapt to the Reopening Process

Like most businesses, your insurance agency is having to learn how to best adapt to a number of pandemic-related challenges and changes. And while every insurance agency has different processes and priorities, it’s important to identify areas you should be focusing on first and what you’ll need to do to make it all happen. 

When putting together a plan of action for managing your agency’s day-to-day operations, consider starting with the following three areas.

Claims processing

Whether you are a provider of property and casualty insurance and/or life and health insurance, your agency is likely to experience an increase in claims activity — including risks that are related. According to research posted in an article by PwC,[1] pandemic-related claims are likely to include large losses across a variety of business lines, causing a type of “cross-accumulation” risk event. Simply put, this event occurs when a company files multiple claims, such as business interruption for lost revenue, workers’ compensation claims for ill employees and general liability claims from customers. Some questions to ask when considering how your agency will handle these types of cross-accumulation claims include:

  • Do you have certain business lines in your agency that you anticipate will require more attention and staff to process and monitor than other lines? Do you need to assign a specific point person/task force for each line?
  • Do you have a system in place for documenting and tracking multiple claims throughout the claims process from start to finish? 
  • Do you have a plan for handling a possible surge in claim-related phone calls that could result in an operational bottleneck and/or agency disruption?

Workplace protocols

As part of the reopening process, you will need to develop a safety plan that outlines office policies, guidelines and procedures to help reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. This can include establishing a safety committee or point person to identify issues and enforce proper agency protocols. Questions to consider include:

  • How are you going to conduct client meetings for those who don’t want to come in to the office? Do your clients know they have options such as videoconferencing and chat?
  • Is your office set up for proper social distancing for staff and clients? For example, have you removed extra office chairs from common areas and posted appropriate signs and posters?  
  • Have you established new office cleaning and disinfection processes that follow guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? Does your staff know to include all workstations, office supplies and furniture?

Regulatory and legislative changes

COVID-19 reopening guidelines are continuing to evolve. This includes new regulations, restrictions and guidelines that are being rolled out by state, federal and local governments. According to PwC, state and insurance regulators and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners are likely to coordinate efforts in creating guidelines as to how the industry should proceed with reopening procedures. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that what is protocol in one state is the same in another. As part of your reopening plan, it’s critical to stay informed on the latest updates, changes and expert recommendations to ensure you are operating in compliance and keeping employees and clients safe. Be sure to:

Not everything about getting back to business is going to be easy. In addition to paying attention to the above key areas, you still need to focus on things like marketing, sales and the general running of your agency. When the time comes to complete your continuing education credits, this task can feel like just another thing on your to-do list.

At FastrackCE, we make completing your continuing education credits fast and easy, and at a time when it’s convenient for you. We offer online courses in most states covering a broad range of topics, including most of the state-mandated courses such as ethics, flood, long-term care and annuity training. For more information, call 800-544-3605 or visit us at fastrackce.com.

[1] PwC, COVID-19 and the Insurance Industry: Practical Steps for Responding to the Coronavirus Crisis, 2020.

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Survey Assesses the Impact of the Pandemic on Small Businesses

A survey by Main Street America shows the sobering reality of just how devastating COVID-19 has been for small business revenue and the millions of Americans employed by locally owned companies with fewer than 20 employees. The following highlights key finding from the 2020 survey.

Business interruption

Regarding the impact of business interruption (BI) due to the pandemic, 80% of the businesses surveyed indicated they had already had to close temporarily at least once since early March. When asked about the potential for a permanent closure if BI continues at the current rate, nearly two-thirds of businesses said they feel they are at risk of closing for good in the next five months and more than 30% indicated a possible permanent closure in the next two months.

Unfortunately, recovering COVID-19-related losses under a BI policy has become a challenge. In most policies, a qualifying BI loss is defined as having caused actual physical damage or a civil authority claim. A physical damage loss requires direct physical damage to property — something that doesn’t exist in most pandemic-related losses.

Loss of revenue

Since early March, nearly three-quarters of small businesses reported a 50% drop in revenue, with 57% reporting a 75% or more drop. As a result of this substantial reduction in income, businesses have been forced to lay off employees. For companies with five or fewer employees, 85% said they have or are planning to lay off between one to five workers. Before the end of the year, this could mean that approximately 35.7 million Americans employed by small businesses will be out of a job.

The assistance small businesses value most

When prompted to share what types of pandemic-related financial assistance small businesses would value the most, 70.17% said financial assistance for at least 90 days and 65.70% said penalty-free extensions on expenses such as rent, utilities, inventory and supplies. After citing financial assistance as a priority, 20.98% of businesses said they would like assistance with how to best protect their employees from contracting COVID-19 and 21.35% said they want to know how to best protect their customers.

Support for small-business America

The Small Business Majority has created a policy agenda that will promote a thriving economy and increase prosperity for local businesses. The agenda presents short- and long-term recommendations that can be enacted at the national, state and local levels and includes:

  • Adjusting repayment due dates on property taxes and commercial rent.
  • Ensuring the delay of payroll tax payments and grant/loan assistance.
  • Providing forbearance on all small business loans — including credit card debt — for at least six months.
  • Cash reimbursement in place of quarterly tax credits to employers that offer paid family medical and sick leave.
  • The passing of legislation to ensure that insurance companies provide coverage for revenue losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although this survey represents a snapshot of a point in time, there will naturally be more pandemic-related challenges that small businesses will be up against. As an insurance professional, your clients will be looking to you to help them understand how they can best mitigate their losses, identify potential gaps in coverage and facilitate the claims process.

The pandemic has made 2020 a difficult year for everyone. Now more than ever, your small business clients will be relying on you to keep them informed and to assist them with a challenging claims process. Don’t let continuing education requirements take valuable time away from your policyholders. At FastrackCE, we make it easy for you to get all of your CE credits completed in one place — including state-mandated courses such as ethics, flood, long-term care and annuity training. For more information, call 800-544-3605 or visit us at fastrackce.com.

*The Main Street America survey was conducted online, and more than 5,850 small-business owners responded, of which 91% reported having fewer than 20 employees.

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COVID-19: 5 Industries That Have Thrived During the Pandemic

COVID Business OpenRestaurants, hotels, travel and retail are just a few of the industries that were hit particularly hard during the pandemic and that will likely continue to struggle as the country begins to slowly reopen. But despite the negative impact of COVID-19 on some enterprises, there are a few businesses that actually experienced positive economic growth.

Pharmaceutical. Considered an essential business, pharmacies remained open during the peak of the pandemic and have experienced a substantial increase in business. In fact, Rite Aid reported that upon the onset of the quarantine, online sales grew 10 times greater than normal demand levels, Forbes reported. As a result, the influx of business has pharmacies and health companies looking to fill a number of new positions to meet the online and in-store demand.

Grocery. Throughout the quarantine, a trip to the grocery store may have been the only outing most Americans experienced. And although there were disruptions in the overall supply chain, grocery stores continued to generate substantial revenue, which created a demand for additional positions ranging from shelf stockers to public relations staff and even supply chain logistics managers. For example, in early April, the superstore Walmart was looking to fill nearly 150,000 new positions to meet the growing demand.

Landscape/gardening. The pandemic grounded Americans to their homes for what seemed like an indefinite amount of time. And even now, as the country begins to reopen, most Americans remain closer to home until a vaccine becomes available. As a result, many landscape and lawncare companies experienced an unseasonably good business. Allwood Recyclers in Oregon told KATU-TV that business since the start of the pandemic has increased with the surge in deliveries of yard and garden materials. Smaller nurseries also saw business pick up in the spring and summer months.

Food delivery services. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many consumers have been relying on food delivery services such as Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash, as well as grocery and meal kit delivery services. In fact, spending on meal delivery services increased 70% from last year, according to data from research firm Second Measure, Barron’s reported. In addition, the data also indicates that the size of food orders have increased by 24%. When asked how they’ve utilized grocery delivery, 66% of consumers surveyed in a poll conducted by OnePoll and reported by Fox News, said they have utilized at least one type of food delivery this year and 55% have tried a meal kit delivery service.

Communication technology. With so many people working remotely, businesses in communication technologies have experienced a sharp increase in the demand for their products and services.  Slack Technologies reported adding nearly 9,000 new paid customers in Q2 of this year — an 80% increase compared with the previous quarter. Zoom, a very popular video conferencing tool, now hosts approximately 300 million meeting participants a day, and its stock is up 120%.


The pandemic has thrown a serious financial blow to many industries and has impacted nearly 21% of the U.S. labor force. And even as states begin to reopen, it could take a while for most businesses to recover. As an insurance professional, it’s important to keep the lines of communication with your commercial business clients open and to see how you can help during this challenging time. And while there are no easy fixes, just being there as a resource for policy and coverage questions, billing issues and claim processing can go a long way to building solid, long-term relationships with your clients.

About FastrackCE

Ensuring continuity in business in the midst of a crisis situation such as the COVID-19 pandemic is vital. At FastrackCE, we make it easy for insurance professionals like you to maintain current continuing education licensing requirements so you can focus on serving your clients. When you need us, we can help. For more information, call 800-544-3605 or visit us at fastrackce.com.

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When is a COVID-19 Business Interruption Claim Payable?

Employer helping clientSince early March, nearly 57% of businesses have experienced a 75% or more drop in revenue due to COVID-19, according to a recent survey. In fact, around two-thirds of business owners said they may have to shut their doors indefinitely if business disruption continues at the current rate. That means 7.5 million small businesses will be at risk of closing permanently over the coming five months, and 3.5 million are at risk of closure in the next two months.

As an insurance professional, you may have clients inquiring as to whether their policy will cover business interruption losses due to COVID-19. The short answer is, it depends. And while every situation and policy is different, the following are general concepts that can help you better address client concerns.

In general, for a business interruption claim to be payable, a commercial policy will require that some form of physical loss or property damage occurs. So when a business shuts down or loses customers due to COVID-19, insurers are likely to take the position that there has not been an actual physical loss or damage to property and, therefore, there is no payable claim. However, there may be a credible argument that if the presence of the virus in a building has rendered it unsafe for use, then the insured has indeed experienced a type of physical loss or damage.

Right now, it’s impossible to say for certain whether a business interruption claim due to losses from the pandemic will be payable. This is why it’s important to review commercial policies and assist clients in the filing and tracking of claims. Doing so is a proactive way to help your clients understand what is and isn’t covered. For example, there may be additional policy provisions or language that, if applicable, may help cover some types of losses. These coverages can include:

  • Contingent business interruption. Applies to an insured that may experience a loss arising from a disruption to their supply chain caused by a supplier, vendor or logistics provider that is unable to offer or deliver products or services to the insured.
  • Civil authority coverage. Protects the insured’s business from losses because of governmental action that impairs or prohibits access to the insured business, such as business interruption losses caused by government closure orders. Losses are typically capped, and coverage depends on the reason for the government action.
  • Event cancellation coverage. May provide coverage for losses sustained when a business is forced to cancel events. This may cover expected revenue and paid expenses that cannot be refunded. Some policies may be limited only to natural disasters and may not include coverage for a pandemic or communicable disease outbreak. However, in some cases, if an event must be canceled due to government orders, coverage may apply.
  • Environmental coverage. While most environmental policies do not offer coverage directly related to COVID-19 or any form of communicable disease, some policies provide broad coverage for many other environmental exposures. For example, the unexpected closing of a business for an indeterminate amount of time may result in property that isn’t being properly maintained. As a result, there could be environmental exposures such as mold growth or other indoor contaminants, as well as water damage from pipes, storage tanks, etc.

Today, insurers and brokers continue to grapple with the myriad claims relating to COVID-19 business losses — specifically those pertaining to business interruption. As your clients learn how to navigate changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important for you to stay informed and help address issues and concerns.

At FastrackCE, we’re here to make it easy for you to maintain current CE licensing requirements so you can continue to serve your business clients during this challenging time. When you need us, we’re here to help. For more information, call 800-544-3605 or visit us at fastrackce.com.

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Surviving the Pandemic: Survey Shows That Indy Agencies Must Learn To Navigate COVID-19

business meetingA national survey of Big “I” agencies by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) revealed that COVID-19 has impacted and continues to impact independent insurance agencies. Of the agencies surveyed:

  • Almost half reported a decrease in revenue this year.
  • Forty-six percent had a loss in commercial lines business.
  • Forty-one percent said that most of their staff continue to work off premises.

Today, the three primary areas that independent agencies will find beneficial during and after the pandemic in order to continue agency operations include addressing the crisis with clients, training staff who are working remotely and building a strong online presence.

Addressing the crisis with clients. Insurance agents know how important retention is. But to keep clients on the books and not have them leave come renewal time often depends on the policyholder experience over the past six or 12 months. That’s why it’s critical to instill trust and confidence during this uncertain time. This includes keeping insureds informed as to how the agency is addressing the pandemic and making it easier for them to get the insurance help they need. For example, how are you making it easier for policyholders to make payments and policy changes and file a claim? What about getting answers to basic policy questions? If you haven’t already thought about and taken steps to make life easier for your clients, now’s the time.

Training staff who are working remotely. It’s important that all agency staff follow best practices while working off premises. This will ensure that your policyholders and potential new clients will continue to get the service they need and deserve. This can include following regular agency business hours, limiting background noise and promptly returning calls. In addition, it’s important for agencies to provide off-premises staff with the tools and information they need to best serve policyholders. This can include having access to important carrier information such as claim and adjuster email addresses and phone numbers, billing and other customer service resources, and knowing how to facilitate quotes and issue new policies — to name just a few.

Building a stronger online presence. More consumers are shopping and buying insurance online. If your agency has been a slow adopter of digital, now’s the time to get on board. A good place to start is by enhancing your website. Key initiatives can include online quoting and claim reporting, self-serve policy changes, and a billing portal complete with a chatbot to answer questions. It’s also a good time to explore possible niches that can open up new revenue streams for your agency, such as small-business lines, farm and ranch coverage, or even life insurance. Once you have identified a profitable niche, promote it on your website, by way of your agency e-newsletter and social media channels.

Today, it will be the fast-moving agents who are proactive in creating value for their insureds who will survive and even thrive during this critical time.

At FastrackCE, we understand the difficult economic environment COVID-19 has created for insurance agents, which is why we’ve made it easy for you to complete all of your insurance continuing education credits in one easy and convenient place. When you’re ready, we’re here for you. For more information, call 800-544-3605 or visit us at fastrackce.com.

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