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Forward after 2020: A review of how insurers swung during COVID-19



Like many industries, insurers made rapid and dramatic changes in response to COVID-19 to keep operations smooth and customer support. With vaccinations suggesting a return to "normal", this is a perfect time to do a data-driven post-mortem on how insurers responded to the pandemic. What measures were taken, what lessons were learned and what do they mean for the future?

What initiatives did insurers take in 2020?

To do this analysis, we looked at 25 US insurance companies (12 Life and 13 P&C). We then analyzed hundreds of press releases from March 2020 to February 2021 and combined the information with information from investor talks and quarterly reports. The goal was to limit our focus specifically to COVID-1

9-related initiatives, which could be things that insurers did directly because of the pandemic or things that were accelerated because of it.

From there, we categorized the initiatives based on who they influenced the most: community, agents / partners, customers or employees.

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My next blog will dive deeper into these categories, but here are the summary highlights: [19659007] Community : Insurance is a big part of people's lives. As such, insurers have an important role to play in societies – and an obligation to be a positive force. The pandemic was an opportunity for insurance companies to support their communities more broadly. Many insurers moved quickly to set up charitable funds and donate personal protective equipment (PPE), respiratory protection and other equipment.

  • Agents / partners : The pandemic disrupted typical interaction models for many agents by forcing a turn to digital channels, while driving people and companies towards new insurance products. Younger generations began to think more seriously about life insurance, while companies learned the need for a more robust business break insurance. With a wave of new customer needs and financial pressures in the short term during the first months of the pandemic, insurers had to better support their agents and distribution partners. Some launched partner platforms for more seamless integration, while others launched on-the-go quotation tools, established data-driven insight centers and offered training.
  • Customers : In the short term, insurance companies quickly expanded their contact center to support a flood of stressed and overwhelmed customers. Many non-life insurers introduced contactless claims and offered premium reductions for car customers due to less driving. Life insurance companies offered fee waivers or extended respite periods. As the year went on, insurers introduced new digital tools, experiences and products to take advantage of new opportunities and allow customers to interact with them in a more convenient and secure way.
  • Employees : Insurers took off to support teleworking when many were not equipped for it. Most companies also offered health programs, mental health days and flexibility at work. While some insurance companies promised to keep their workforce, others unfortunately made cuts. In the long term, we saw insurers imagine their internal processes to improve efficiency while offering qualification programs for their employees.
  • Even in this brief summary, you can see that the insurance industry has taken a wide range of measures in response to COVID-19. Basically, there was a mix of new initiatives that were launched and existing initiatives that were either stopped or modified.

    Similarities and differences in how insurers responded to the pandemic

    All insurers have taken several measures to swing in response to COVID-19, but the species the scope of these measures varied. For example, most insurance companies launched cost initiatives, but some reduced their staff while others focused on technology to reduce operating costs.

    The reality is similar when comparing P&C and Life insurance companies. Although there were some implications in where they focused their COVID-19 response, the actions they took were different depending on the specific needs of each segment. Non-life insurers announced repayment plans, insurance credits and initiatives for digital claims, while Life Insurance companies announced new digital products and strongly supported their agent network. Both P&C and Life insurance companies announced a similar number of initiatives for society. But life insurance companies announced more internal initiatives focusing on employees, while P&C insurance companies focused more of their initiatives on agents / partners and customers.

    Click / press to see a larger image.

    Another difference among insurers is the extent. Most insurers announced a series of measures that, when taken together, represent a comprehensive response. Others took a more programmatic and structured approach, such as Progressive. In direct response to COVID-19, Progressive created a solution, return and reimagine design to help its employees and customers. This comprehensive program stands out among its peers due to its extensive scope. The design is designed to respond quickly in the short term through Progressive's Apron Relief program for both clients and agents, but it also looks to the future by creating teams specifically to understand what the "new norm" will look like after the pandemic. [19659004] To quickly round off our research, we also looked at the COVID-19 initiatives in APAC and Europe. We found that their responses were broadly consistent with the responses in the United States.

    There will be two more blogs in this series where I will dive deeper into these four categories, starting with community and customers. By providing specific examples and data, I will offer a 360-degree view of how the US insurance industry reacted to COVID-19, including takeaways on the way forward for insurers.


    For the latest insights in the insurance industry, visit and analysis visit. Accenture Insurance Website:

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    Disclaimer: This content is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to be used in consultation with our professional advisors.


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