Canadian Underwriter

How risk pros feel about attending in-person events in the COVID era

July 29, 2022   by David Gambrill

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Insurance is a relationships-based industry, but Canada’s risk professionals appear conflicted about attending in-person industry events again, even after most public health restrictions have been dropped in most provinces, a Canadian Underwriter online survey suggests.

On one hand, 69% out of the 375 P&C insurance professionals who answered the survey said they were either very interested or interested in attending in-person industry events again.

About half (46%) said they were motivated by seeing industry colleagues in person again, with another 27% feeling in-person events are a more effective means of professional networking.

And yet, almost half (48%) of survey respondents say they haven’t attended an in-person industry event at all this year, and another 19% say they’ve only attended only one. For the one event attended, it appeared to be an example of ‘Go big or go home.’ For 30% of respondents who attended only one event, the event was between 1-25 people in size; for another 30%, it was a large-scale event of between 100 and 300 people.

Fifty-five per cent of respondents said COVID was either a very important or important factor in their decision to attend an in-person industry event. Another fifty per cent said they have refused to attend an event they considered to be unsafe, and 46% said they would likely skip an event they thought to be unsafe.

Canadian Underwriter conducted the survey this week, when public health representatives have declared a seventh wave of the virus, led by the spread of the highly transmissible COVID-19 B.A.5 variant of the virus. Most provinces have dropped most or all of the public health mandates, including wearing masks indoors.

Sixty per cent of risk professionals believe COVID-19 will likely become an issue again in September 2022, when the industry’s conference season begins again in earnest.

In Canada, 49.3% of the national population has received at least one or two booster COVID-19 vaccine doses (i.e. above the regular panel of two doses). In the survey, about 50% of Canada’s risk professionals reported receiving three doses of the vaccine, while another 24% said they had received four doses.

Anecdotally, vaccination status seems to play a role in P&C professionals’ comfort with attending in-person industry events.

“I am about to have my fourth shot,” one respondent wrote in anonymous comments. “I’ve had COVID once already. I am as/more likely to catch a cold or the flu and that wouldn’t stop me from going.”

Six per cent of respondents (14 out of 246 who answered) say they “definitely” caught COVID (tested positive), “very likely” caught COVID (had symptoms, but tested negative) or “possibly” caught COVID (had symptoms but did not test) at an in-person industry event this year.

Forty-eight per cent of respondents say they “never” test themselves for COVID after an event. Fifty-six per cent say they never test for COVID prior to attending an event.

For those who reported attending in-person P&C industry events, 78% say they feel responsible for their own safety. About 16% say the onus for safety should rest with the event organizers/coordinators, while a mere 1.2% say responsibility for safety at in-person industry events should lie with governments or public health authorities.

When at events, a plurality (42%) of respondents reported feeling “completely safe in a maskless environment,” and that event organizers couldn’t do much more to increased their sense of personal safety while at an event.

Twenty-one per cent recalled of their last in-person industry event that no health safety precautions of any kind were taken at the event. Seventeen per cent of people attending industry events said they wished they had seen fewer health precautions taken at the event.

Half of respondents reported hand sanitizers were available at the event, while about 37% saw people wearing masks.

Of those who wished more health precautions had been taken, 16% called for larger, better-ventilated rooms, while 14% wished they had seen more people wearing masks.

PART 2 of the survey results next Wednesday will relay anecdotal responses of how risk professionals are feeling about COVID these days.


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