By Rich Wirth, Senior vice president specialty operations
Prior to COVID-19, risk and underwriting assessments, consultative and specialty services, and safety trainings were primarily completed on-site.
But when many businesses shut down in April and May of 2020, physical loss control services saw a dramatic decline. Our wholesale and specialty insurance market clients only incurred a slight dip and bounced back rather quickly in June 2020. But others — including our carrier, employer and public entity business segments — experienced additional hurdles. As a result, many experimented with virtual loss control services.
The shift to virtual
Throughout the last several years, many platforms have evolved to enable risk specialists to conduct virtual assessments or safety training with the policy holder or client. For remote locations that may lack skilled loss control specialists, virtual services can save time and eliminate expensive travel costs. While the concept was gaining acceptance in the loss control and safety arena, it was not as predominant as the time-tested in-person visit. That is until the pandemic.
More and more clients began requesting virtual loss control and safety visits. And although the virtual platforms we tested and used were strong, we found that the connectivity was not. Clients, insureds and our loss control specialists encountered frequent connection drops which made the process excessively long and frustrating for all parties.
We also found that property coverage and complex risks take an extensive amount of time and policyholders must be engaged throughout the entire process. This may mean walking the specialist through every aspect of the operation or property, and/or involving multiple people at the location. For comparison, imagine a contractor directing you to remodel your bathroom via a video call while you do the work, versus the contractor doing the work at your house while you go about your business.
The future of loss control services
As restrictions continue to ease, businesses are cautiously returning to the workplace. This means physical, on-site loss control assessments and consultative services have also returned. The insurance carrier segment is the exception however, as many continue to allow only virtual loss control visits. We anticipate all carriers to return to physical on-site loss control by the end of 2021.
Although the pandemic has made the virtual method more accepted than ever before, it is pretty clear that an on-site presence is preferred for most. But that doesn’t mean virtual loss control services are going away. Based on the pace of technology and platform advancements, and as our connection speeds continue to improve, we will see more virtual services requested. Meanwhile, other clients may choose to deploy a mix of physical, telephonic and virtual loss control.
Sedgwick is the leading provider of loss control, safety and specialty services in the nation. Whatever your needs, whatever the size of your project, Sedgwick can help. Click here to find out how.