“Firms should consider, along with other challenges, the impact of staff absences and the need to ensure staff wellbeing on continuity of service.” This is FCA guidance to insurance firms on its expectations of their approach to Covid-19. Operational resilience is key. But as the FCA alludes to, fundamental to successful customer outcomes is ensuring employees themselves are well looked-after.
The biggest cultural shift that Covid-19 has seen – apart from general social distancing – is to home working. From call-centre workers to underwriters, the majority of (if not all) employees will be stationed at home rather than in the office. This impacts insurers both as employers, and as providers of related insurance products (for example, employer liability insurance and D&O insurance).
Employers have a duty to provide a safe work-place. This means employers need to take into account updated HSE guidance covering both those (if any) still required to come into the office and those working from home. It is clear that as well as physical health, mental health is a consideration here and employers will need to put in place appropriate measures – and take steps to ensure those are working. Perhaps sensibly, the FCA have made it clear that under SMCR it will be a question for Senior Managers whether or not employees are required in the office or can work from home – this is a big question in a time of national emergency and needs to be dealt with at a senior level.
This may be a busy period in terms of claims handling, underwriting and risk assessing, as policyholders and insurers alike seek to establish what Covid-19 consequences should secure coverage. Insurers will also seek to reduce delay occasioned by remote working in underwriting and handling claims. For appropriate outcomes still to be met, managers will need to work effectively with employees, ensuring that teams have the same effective oversight that they do in a traditional workplace setting, and that conduct and performance expectations (if not productivity) remain unchanged.
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Please note this blog post was written by a Clifford Chance LLP employee. Clifford Chance LLP is the parent company of Clifford Chance Applied Solutions (CCAS). The content within this post does not constitute legal advice.