With the sudden call for social distancing and businesses being closed due to COVID-19, many insurance agencies are looking for ways to successfully maintain agency operations while transitioning to a remote work environment and dealing with limited or no in-person interaction with customers. The following is a list of resources to help you respond to the workplace implications of the coronavirus pandemic. Please let us know if you have other questions or concerns which we can help address.


Agency Resources

If your agency is looking for practical and actionable guidance on how to implement a remote work plan for your agency, among other assistance, consider the following resources:

On-Demand Webinars/Videos:
COVID-19's Impact and the Insurance Industry's Response As part of the annual Best Practices for Agency Operations webinar series, Brian McNeely from Reagan Consulting presented a 20-minute webinar, COVID-19's Impact and the Insurance Industry's Response, that is now available on-demand. The free webinar offers insight into how the industry is responding to COVID-19 as well as what the future holds. 
 
Transitioning Your Agency to a Remote Work Environment - 
Now, more than ever, is the time to embrace remote work. If your agency is looking for guidance on how to smooth the transition to remote work, watch this lively discussion with some fellow NC independent agents and IIANC staff that have successfully moved to telework - both before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and as a result of needing to social distance.
  
Your Agency and Telework - Dos, Don'ts and Practical Advice Affinity HR Group offers practical advice to help agencies successfully implement a remote work plan in light of COVID-19.
   
Federal & State Response to COVID-19
- The Big “I” government affairs team provides valuable info on legislative activity at the state and federal level, including an overview of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the small business implications in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, and also discusses the next steps, both legislatively and within the insurance industry. (recorded on 4/7/20)
  
Best Practices for Zoom Meetings & Webinars - If you weren't already using Zoom prior to the last couple of weeks, chances are pretty good that you've either been a participant on at least one Zoom meeting or are now leading them yourself! Make sure you are maximizing the potential for awesome virtual meetings and also using some "best practices" of online communication with the tips and tricks shared in this webinar, led by Jason Sabo, IIANC Business Consultant.
 
IIABA Webinars on Insurance Coverage and Workplace Topics
- The Big 'I' offers three webinars to provide insight into coronavirus impact on business income coverage, auto exposures and food  delivery, and implementing a remote work plan for your agency. Webinars available on-demand or register for a specific time.
 
Video Q&A on COVID-19 Insurance Related Issues
- Insurance educators Kevin Amrhein and Cathy Trischan discuss COVID-19 and several common insurance inquiries agents are receiving, including Business Interruption, Work Comp, Cyber, work-from-home exposures and other general P&C coverage issues. 
 

Articles/Blog Posts:
IIABA Resource Page for Agency Reopening - When the time is right for your agency to open its doors, you will need to take additional precautions to help protect your staff and clients. The Big “I" has curated resources to help you communicate with clients, lead staff and continue to serve your community. Visit the Roadmap to Recovery and Opening page for videos on current HR issues, best practices tips, strategies, work from home resources, employee safety signs and much more.  
 
Building Trust with Your Remote Work Team Members - MyAgencyCampus shares tactics for your week to week remote team leadership.
  
Key Leadership Practices for Virtual Teams - We are living in an environment where circumstance forces change. MyAgencyCampus reached out to virtual team leadership expert Donna Dennis, PhD to learn more.
   
Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 - Independent agencies are able to continue operations due to being considered an essential business. The CDC has provided some guidance while working in a critical infrastructure or essential job position.
 
Video Teleconferencing Hijacking (VTH) or Zoom Bombing Reported - The IIANC Technology Consultant explains the recent problem with Zoom Bombing and offers suggestions of steps that you can take to help prevent this from happening to you.
 
Cyber-Security Tips for Working from Home 
and Think Before You Click: Beware of COVID-19 Scams - The IIANC Technology Consultant shares some practical, but essential, cyber-security techniques that agency staff needs to follow to help prevent a potential data-breach.
  
Big I Coronavirus Resource CenterNumerous articles, sample memos and agreements for staff, sick leave guidance, etc. are provide via the Big I Coronavirus Resource Center which is being updated regularly.

If Not Now, Then When? Article
Guidance on managing and leading a remote agency work force; written by Cheryl Koch of Agency Management Resource Group.

Suddenly Managing Remote Teams? Now What? - This blog post from Caliper outlines what businesses should focus on today for their remote teams and what to consider for the coming weeks.

Cybersecurity Tips - Cybersecurity is essential as more employees are working remotely as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Teleworking comes with the added responsibility of taking the appropriate steps to protect your organization’s data while being connected online. The NC Dept. of Information Technology shares helpful tips to keep in mind when working from home.


Important: Agency Closing and Notice to Customers

Should it become necessary for an agency to close its office(s), the N.C. Department of Insurance encourages the following steps:

  • Place a sign on the door that states the office is temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 virus. The agency may wish to notify NCDOI Agent Services of this action but is not required to do so.

  • Include a phone number/contact info to ensure consumers may contact the agent for business-related needs. If possible, also provide phone numbers/contact info to the companies the agency represents. Agencies should be available to answer phone calls from consumers remotely and should check with insurance carriers to ensure that they are meeting the requirements of the carrier. In addition, the agent should be aware of the company’s availability to respond to questions and inquires.


Tech Tools to Maintain Operations

If staff working remotely and/or having limited contact with customers is creating issues with maintaining some essential business operations like taking payments or getting applications completed, consider implementing the following tech tools in your agency. These are all available at a discounted or complimentary rate to IIANC member agencies.  


EPay Policy - Collecting Insurance Payments Online
This simple service is used by agencies and brokers across the country to collect ACH and credit card payments online in a single payment page and pass on the transaction fees to the insured. IIANC endorses ePayPolicy as our preferred digital payment processor. From now until the end of May, receive your first month for FREE!




Docusign - Electronic Signature Platform
Big "I" members may now receive exclusive discounted pricing from the industry's #1 esignature solution, Docusign. DocuSign is used to accelerate transaction times to increase speed to results, reduce costs, improve customer service and reduce E&O exposure. 


AVYST eForms Wizard - Electronic Forms 
Streamline and increase accuracy of the submission process by allowing single entry to ACORD, company-unique and agency forms, even when offline, with this powerful electronic forms tool. eForms Wizard is a perfect virtual tool as it enables insurance producers anclient service personnel to meet the needs and expectations of consumers during this time because it works offline - not being in the office together and slow internet speeds or limited bandwidth aren’t an issue.  Your team can still collaborate digitally to put submissions together more efficiently.




 

Financial Resources

If you need help meeting your agency's financial obligations over the coming weeks...
The U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest federal disaster loans to help businesses recover from declared disasters. Since the SBA approved the request for North Carolina's disaster declaration, eligible applicants may now apply for economic injury disaster recovery loans (EIDLs) to help fulfill financial obligations and operating expenses as a result of the ongoing effects of COVID-19.  More information regarding eligibility, loan specifics and the application process can be found at the link below.


  

SBA Resources for Counseling and Training
The following SBA backed organizations provide assistance to small businesses in the state. Email and phone counseling are available.




If your agency can't afford the paid leave requirements passed by Congress...

H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (known as Package 2) requires employers to provide temporary paid leave to employees who cannot attend work due to personal medical needs, caregiving needs, or childcare needs. Included in H.R. 6201 is a refundable payroll tax credit to reimburse employers – dollar for dollar – for expenses they incur for paid sick leave and family and medical leave as well. Additionally, small businesses under 50 employees may apply for a waiver from the Department of Labor (DOL) to exempt them from paid leave requirements if it would place them in significant financial hardship.




Licensing Information

From the NCDOI: Activities Requiring a License and Non-Licensable Administrative Activities