Canadian Underwriter

How these two insurers are serving customers during the pandemic

March 23, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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Most Desjardins agency offices are now dealing with customers over the phone and Internet, while CAA Club Group has closed its Ontario stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Desjardins agents are continuing to focus on servicing our clients,” a spokesperson for Desjardins Group, Canada’s third-largest property and casualty insurer, told Canadian Underwriter Friday. “They can do this either from their office or remotely based on the individual situation for their agency.”

For its part, CAA Club Group’s stores in Ontario closed effective Mar. 17.

“To help prevent, manage, and mitigate the possible spread of COVID-19, CAA Stores are temporarily closed,” a CAA South Central Ontario spokesperson confirmed to Canadian Underwriter. “However our retail associates are still working from home. While we have modified how we deliver our services, we continue to provide services through our call centre and online.”

CAA Insurance sells its insurance products and services through both the broker and direct channels. CAA Club Group said earlier that it is spending $20-million to renovate its Ontario stores. The goal is to give CAA clients (including insurance, travel and roadside assistance) an inviting home-style environment with fireplaces, a video wall and free WiFi. The CAA Club Group of Companies includes CAA Insurance Company as well CAA South Central Ontario and CAA Manitoba, which are affiliated with the Canadian Automobile Association.

CAA is experiencing a very high volume of inquiries, warns a sign posted on a closed CAA store in Oakville, Ont.

Nearby, a Canadian Underwriter reporter noticed an open Desjardins agency office on Mar. 20. A large sign on the front door of the Desjardins agency asks visitors not to enter if they have COVID-19 symptoms, suggesting visitors could be asked to leave if they do show possible signs of the virus.

“Desjardins and its agent network continue to follow guidelines outlined by the Canadian Government and the respective provincial governments,” the Desjardins spokesperson said Friday. “From my understanding, the vast majority, if not all, are dealing with customers over the phone or online.”

State Farm Canada’s agency network in Ontario was re-branded Desjardins as a result of Desjardins Group’s acquisition of the State Farm Canada business.

Although Ontario brokerage and agency offices do not have to close, the province’s state of emergency does mean several classes of business – cinemas, theatres and concert venues among them – cannot remain open. Restaurants can remain open but only to serve food for takeout and delivery. Bars and restaurants are not allowed to serve alcohol at all.

The Ontario government advises everyone to try to keep at least two metres from others.

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