One thing is almost certain in most crises: property/casualty insurance companies will be painted as villains. Consumer activists, plaintiffs lawyers and politicians have already started and will increasingly demand that insurance companies step in and “cover” situations that aren’t—and never have been—covered. It’s always happened in the aftermath of natural disasters; now it’s happening amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic devastation it’s inflicting.

Executive Summary

During and after this crisis, engaging in strategic and proactive communications will be key for the P/C insurance industry, according to crisis and reputation management consultant Richard Levick. Carriers cannot afford to sit back and wait for their clients to communicate to them, he says, calling that "the definition of bad crisis hygiene." Here, he offers communication tips.

Given these stark realities—and the likelihood that it will take many months before the climate improves—how should P/C companies be communicating?

My perspective is that P/C insurance executives have been here before. They know the indispensable role that their industry must play in a crisis. And they know there’s always a disconnect between what people think is insured and what actually is.

Many of them also recognize that P/C companies should be offering customers special policies now to protect them in the event of another pandemic. It would demonstrate the industry’s compassion and foresight, as well as its resolve to work on behalf of its customers’ interests. Even if clients choose not to invest in the special coverage, they’ll know that their P/C companies are thinking long term.

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