"Social distancing" was and is the tool of choice in combating the pandemic. And the shutdown of public life led to a consistent shift to home office work in many industries. As expected, this trend is also affecting the insurance world.
At the beginning of the pandemic, insurance companies in Germany were faced with the same problems as other commercial enterprises: operations were to continue as unrestrictedly as possible, but employees were to be protected from infection. And as in other sectors of the economy, where it was possible, people took to the home office. The situation has hardly changed since spring 2020, and Germany is currently once again in a "lockdown" - time to ask how the insurance industry has fared through the COVID-19 crisis and what lasting changes the consequences of the pandemic will have.
Digitalization boost for processes
If you were to follow the figures from a study by Versicherungsforen Leipzig, the companies mastered the transition to the home office surprisingly well. Despite the time pressure, respondents found the job change to be totally smooth. However, the employees in the companies were also confronted with challenges. These primarily concerned working together with colleagues. The lack of informal meetings was particularly noticeable. And almost naturally, the home office also influences leadership. Such "hybrid" forms of cooperation require other methods to ensure that team structures are maintained.
However, the result of the study is clear: the COVID-19 crisis and the home office have led to a digitalization push in insurance companies. Processes at most companies were digitalized even more, new tools were introduced within a very short time and systemic deficits were clearly identified.
Thus, the participants of the study also expect that the changes in their working environment will be sustainable. Digital collaboration, the rethinking of paper-based processes and the relevance of process optimization all play a role here.
Customer access changes
But it is not only the employees from the insurance companies who are increasingly working at home during the pandemic. Insured individuals are also spending more time within their own four walls, but still want to be insured against risks. The companies have also reacted to this and expanded digital contact points and communication channels without further ado. In this respect, the companies that had already adapted to the changed behavior of customers at an early stage were probably at an advantage. As in other industries, particularly visible in the retail sector, the COVID-19 crisis has merely accelerated a trend here. Against this background, the importance of adviser tools and digital sales aids, such as the tools already presented here like chatbots, is likely to grow in the near future.