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How flexible are the industry’s working arrangements?


October 25, 2018   by Jason Contant


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Canadian employees in the insurance industry are about 13% more likely to work remotely than office workers in the United States.

One in five U.S. office workers work remotely now, the New York Post reported last week. By contrast, more than one-third of employees in the Canadian insurance industry work remotely, according to the Insurance Institute of Canada’s recently released Demographics of the P&C Insurance Industry in Canada report.

The institute found the incidence of remote work varies considerably depending on the group of workers. For example, remote work is least common among brokers and actuaries, both at 20%. At the opposite end of the spectrum, remote work is more common in risk management (63%) and claims (41%). Those who work in specialty insurance also stand out, with customer service reps (78%), brokers (71%) and underwriters (65%) who focus on specialty lines all having a higher share of workers who can work remotely.

Not surprisingly, key functions in IT, including digital marketing (84%) and data analytics (80%), also have a high share of workers who can work remotely.

The finding that one-third of employees in the Canadian insurance industry work remotely meshes with the practice of one mutual insurer. “Around 30% of our employees work from home, including members of our business development, underwriting and claims teams,” Catherine Leclair, vice president of human resources at Gore Mutual, told Canadian Underwriter Wednesday.

Work-from-home schedules at Gore Mutual vary depending on people’s roles. “Some of our employees work 100% from home and some work 25% – it depends on what works best for them.” While an average of 30% works remotely, more than 85% have the ability to work from home if they need to for any variety of reasons, Leclair added.

Is working from home a set-in-stone rule? Not according to the Insurance Institute study, which found about 70% of employees work remotely on an informal basis (they do not have a formal agreement with their employer to work a fixed share of time remotely).

Gore Mutual does have a formal policy in place on working from home. “Technology today provides us with the opportunity to enhance the employee experience with the ability to work from home,” Leclair said. “This flexibility has given us the ability to attract top talent and provide all our employees with a better work-life balance. I see the concept of working from home continuing to expand in the future.”