15 • 06 • 2020

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

By Simon Kaesler, Matt Leo, Shannon Varney, and Kaitlyn Young

As the COVID-19 crisis evolves, it will continue to affect insurance distribution around the world. Insurers can prepare by building a strategy focused on near- and long-term implications.The COVID-19 pandemic is profoundly affecting how people engage with one another across industries and geographies. Physical distancing and other quarantine measures have shifted activities once considered critical to have in person to digital and remote channels. This change will affect insurance distribution—both in the near term, as physical distancing measures continue, and in the longer term. Indeed, society’s relationship with technology and remote interactions is continuously evolving and accelerating as we move toward the “next normal.”

Many insurance companies have likely already taken steps to address short-term or immediate impacts of COVID-19—moving employees to a remote setup and expanding online customer service channels. Now, insurers are focused on the next set of challenges, including how to reimagine distribution in a more remote world. An April 2020 survey of German insurance agents (conducted four weeks into lockdown) found that about half of the agents saw a more than 40 percent decrease in new business.1 And a May 2020 survey of US agents found a similar effect: almost 50 percent of agents cited remotely building new customer relationships as the biggest challenge during COVID-19.2 Meanwhile, online insurance aggregators and direct channels are reporting similar, if not greater, volume.

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