Canadian Underwriter

These clients are especially disadvantaged by COVID-19 precautions

March 20, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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Smart phones and high-speed Internet makes it easier to do business when offices are closed and staff are working from home, but what about the client who doesn’t have the latest and greatest technology gadgets?

Some clients, especially some elderly people, do not necessarily have access to technology such as e-mail and printers, suggests Chuck Byrne, executive director and chief operating officer of the Insurance Brokers Association of British Columbia.

Byrne was commenting to Canadian Underwriter on recent decisions intended to make it easier for brokers to do business in B.C., which is under a state of emergency.

COVID-19 has infected more than 246,000 people and killed more than 10,000 worldwide, the Associated Press reported Friday. Though it causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems.

The social distancing precautions intended to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission prompted a number of measures in B.C. Among them, the province’s public auto insurer, Insurance Corporation of B.C., announced Wednesday that motorists will be able to receive insurance transactions by e-mail, submit signatures electronically, submit payments by phone and receive policy documents by e-mail.

ICBC will also let clients renew, cancel and change their Autoplan policies by phone. In-person services are no longer available at ICBC’s head office.

“Clearly these measure were necessary; however, they are adding to the time needed for many transactions and requiring extra steps and effort for all,” Byrne told Canadian Underwriter. “A few issues remain unresolved. For example, insureds (often elderly) without access to e-mail, tech, devices/printers etc. In addition, with close to 10,000 ICBC renewals occurring per day, and many other daily transactions, there will also be a backlog of detail work to clean up once a sense of the new normal returns.”

The changes do provide greater safety for brokers and consumers, while significantly increasing workplace flexibility during the COVID-19 outbreak, said Byrne.

“All licensees are able to work from home, where it allows for the most safety and with the greater freedom of over the phone and email verifications to transact business,” added Byrne, referring to Level 1 salespersons regulated by the Insurance Council of B.C.

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