The global COVID-19 pandemic “will change the insurance industry irrevocably over the coming decade,” says a new report from Forrester, with some of the biggest impacts hitting workers compensation and personal auto.
The rise of the gig economy has already lowered demand for workers comp, at least for small businesses—only 47 percent of small business owners purchased the coverage in 2018, down from 69 percent in 2014. Forrester said it expects coronavirus to accelerate this shift from employee to contractor, and that it also sees increased use of “tireless and immune robots and drones” to handle construction jobs like laying bricks and hanging drywall, as well as for delivering groceries and takeout. Both of these changes will affect payroll and, in turn, get factored into workers comp premiums.
In addition, government-mandated lockdowns and shelter-in-place policies have greatly decreased miles driven, leaving many consumers wondering why they’re paying for auto coverage when their car is sitting idle in a parking spot, Forrester said. With some companies likely to make their work-from-home policies permanent, plus the uncertain state of the economy post-pandemic, personal auto insurers can expect more demand for usage- and mileage-based insurance as consumers question the need for traditional coverage.
Forrester also warned of COVID-19’s impact on:
Real estate—work-from-home has proven an effective way for many companies to do business, leaving them to ponder whether paying thousands or even millions of dollars in rent is really necessary. Landlords need to understand what they’ll be covered for if faced with widespread vacancies.
Digital services—with in-person interactions impossible and hold lines worse than ever, the pandemic has caused many insureds to turn to chatbots and mobile claims assistants. Forrester believes these digital services will continue to be in demand even after the crisis, but companies need to get the word out and make the features easier to use.
Survivor/beneficiary management—Forrester expects companies to shift from an administrative stance to customer service, offering concierge services to help families and executors navigate the account closing and settlement processes; hiring new skills like social work or medical backgrounds; and offering regular empathy training.
Insurance payment plans—household budgets have already been hit hard by COVID-19, and the looming recession will only worsen the situation. Forrester expects some insurers will seek to emulate Selective’s PaySync Flexible Payment Plan for personal lines P/C and individual life insurance.
The Forrester report is called: COVID-19 Drives Big Structural Changes That Shape the Future of Insurance