As the economic and health impacts of the pandemic continue to ripple across the globe, businesses in the Pacific region of the U.S.—as well as the rest of the country—are reassessing their return-to-work plans. According to data from Chubb and the National Center for the Middle Market (NCMM), around half (51%) of Pacific-based middle market firms polled are back to work at the end of Q2, while nearly a third (31%) are the midst of a phased return to the workplace. Still, others (13%) only have a planned return date/schedule, and some (3%) have no plans to return in the next six months.
Regardless of where middle market companies fall on this spectrum, it’s important to consider how changes to the work model may impact potential exposures. The following are key considerations that insurance agents and brokers can raise with their customers to help them navigate evolving return-to-office risks.
Many companies—especially those in the Pacific region of the U.S.—are continuing to have employees work remotely, whether on a hybrid or, in certain cases, a permanent basis.
It is essential for these companies to consider how remote work environments can impact not only employee wellbeing, but also business health. If employees’ workspaces aren’t ergonomically sound, employees may be more likely to sustain injuries on the job, which could end up leading to workers compensation claims. Agents and brokers should encourage clients with evolving remote work policies to provide resources—and stipends, if possible—dedicated to optimizing work-from-home set-ups, such as the guidance found in “Ergonomic and Safety Guide for Employees Working from Home,” which includes tips for:
As companies’ return-to-office plans shift, agents and brokers can help navigate the impact such changes may have on exposures and, consequently, risk management and insurance program needs.
For example, some companies in the Pacific region (as well as throughout the U.S.) are choosing to sell or terminate leases of commercial properties they’re no longer using at full capacity. Whether companies decide to centralize operations at a certain facility or eliminate in-person work entirely, agents and brokers can help companies understand how doing so may impact their unique property insurance coverages and limits and risk management needs.
As agents and brokers work with clients, they should make sure that changes to business operations are part of the discussion. Whether clients are scaling back or dialing up remote work, downsizing real estate, or making other changes, it is critical that they understand potential impacts on their exposures and protect themselves accordingly.
As the pandemic evolves, agents and brokers can help businesses navigate what’s next and show clients that they’re not alone. By helping companies continually assess risk management and insurance coverage programs, insurance agents and brokers can help better-position companies to succeed, even as new challenges arise.
Paige McIntyre is AVP, San Francisco Marketing Manager at Chubb.
The opinions and positions expressed are the authors’ own and not those of Chubb. The information and/ or data provided herein is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Insurance coverage is subject to the language of the policies as issued.