Canadian Underwriter

How a return to work changed the approach of this Top 5 insurer

June 25, 2021   by Jason Contant

Back to the office with COVID precautions

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Aviva Canada is taking a deliberate and measured approach to change initiatives in the second half of the year, with the understanding the next few months and the looming return to the office will be a stressful time for employees.

“We’re still going through and ahead with change initiatives,” Aviva Canada’s chief claims officer Bryant Vernon said Thursday during a virtual fireside chat. “But we’re trying to be very thoughtful about, ‘How do we implement those and roll those out?’

“We’ve tried to front-load more of [the change initiatives] towards the beginning half of the year, rather than towards the latter half of the year. And we actually don’t have any major deliverables from a technology perspective, or otherwise in the back half of the year, with the thought that it’s going to be, I think, a very stressful time.”

Some change initiatives can’t be avoided, Vernon acknowledged. In those instances, he advised, companies should be “be very smart about what change initiatives you’re pursuing in the back half of the year.”

Vernon made his comments during a virtual fireside chat at The Future of Connected Claims Canada webinar, hosted by Reuters Events. He was discussing the future of work and what it might look like for the carrier.

“The future of working is something that we’ve been thinking about a lot,” Vernon said. “I think for the health of the operations, companies should be fairly flexible.”

Connected Claims Canada conference

Bryant Vernon, chief claims officer at Aviva Canada (left), and moderator Bryan Falchuk, founder and managing partner of Insurance Evolution Partners, at The Future of Connected Claims Canada webinar, hosted by Reuters Events.

For companies that are inflexible, that will put a strain on their operations, he said. And at Aviva Canada, workers have indicated they want more work flexibility.

“I think what’s best for Aviva — and I think it’s going to be the best or very good for other carriers — is to take a more measured approach and to really look at how effective you have been in this current environment,” Vernon said. “Has your production been good, has the quality been good? And if it has, I think you have some room and you have some flexibility to take a more measured, flexible approach to how you are thinking about work post-pandemic.”

Vernon sees a lot of pressure on operations in the coming months, as pandemic restrictions ease and workers transition back to the office in some form. “Not because [employees] have never handled it… but I think it’s just getting back to that page. There’s going to be a change. It’s going to feel weird.”

And the insurer is already seeing claims volumes going up, particularly on the auto side of the business, as lockdowns ease and more people are moving around and travelling.

“I think as volumes ramp up again, it’s going to be an awkward shift for folks,” Vernon said. “Even if it’s something that they’ve done before in the past, in terms of the number of claims or phone calls they are getting in a day, I think it’s going to feel like pressure — at least initially, until people start to get back into the swing of things.”

Realistically, the next big challenge will be “getting through the summer, and getting past the beginning of school,” Vernon said, “given how many people have been working remotely, and how many people have been juggling their families as well as the work. That to me is a huge stress level…over the next four months, of just getting through that and making sure that people are mentally in a very good place.”


Feature image via Zigic

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