Amid the coronavirus pandemic, brokerages are doing their best to continue servicing clients while also keeping morale up among their staff.
“The biggest challenge for us is maintaining our culture in a setting where everything that has built our culture isn’t around us anymore,” said Jurenda Landry (pictured), director of client services at KASE Insurance. “We don’t have that ease of reference to just sit up and chat with somebody quickly to discuss something. We also don’t have those light-hearted moments in the office.”
While the KASE team used to come together for a meeting every Tuesday morning for account management and another on Fridays for the sales team, now there’s a meeting with sales every morning at 8:30am to get the day started and catch up. Similarly, the account management team has a call every day at 9am, and then the whole office gets together on Fridays for a virtual happy hour.
“We have a drink and we don’t talk about work,” said Landry. “We’re concerned about the mental health of everybody on the team because this can become draining, especially [since] two of our team members are very new. Plus, they’re also new to the broker world and whereas they had the support from us if they had a question or they didn’t know what to do, they now have a different form of isolation so the source of knowledge has, in a way, not been as easily accessible.”
On the other hand, moving to a technology-powered brokerage hasn’t been a difficult step for KASE since the business has historically been tech forward, though Landry says this is the first time those capabilities have been tested. Being technology-focused allowed the team to make the decision to move to remote work very quickly since it already had almost everything in place to allow its employees to work from anywhere.
“We took it really seriously and we definitely wanted to take care of our team,” said Landry. “Our main priority was the team and to make sure that everybody is safe, that everybody is healthy, and everybody is doing the right things.”
So far, the biggest question coming in from KASE clients has been about business interruption since everybody wants to know if this insurance will cover pandemic losses. It’s also an ongoing conversation with insurers on how, if at all, the wording in policies is going to change as a result of the pandemic, explained Landry. In fact, lending an ear to clients as they deal with the fallout from the pandemic and related shutdowns has been one of the most important activities of brokers at KASE during this crisis.
“Our clients … are going through a stressful time, are laying off their staff, and don’t know if they’ll be in business three months from now,” said Landry. “It’s a lot of tough conversations and connecting with people on a human level, and understanding that for KASE insurance we’re business as usual at the moment, but we have to also understand that our clients aren’t.”
The guidance and advisory services KASE brokers are providing right now involves more in-depth conversation about insureds’ policies and limits, and whether coverage can be amended. It’s also an important educational opportunity for policyholders.
“Where our clients never had time to have a conversation on their coverages, they have that now with us – they have the time to sit down and understand everything,” explained Landry. “And at KASE we’ve been so lucky – we’ve continued to close new business as we’re going along. We haven’t felt too much of an impact that much, but we can appreciate the concern from our clients because it’s unnerving, and it’s a time for us to be as empathetic as possible.”