Social distancing brings unique insurance risks. Here are four liabilities to discuss with your clients, even if they are sheltering in place.
With much of the U.S. sheltering in place, there are some intuitive impacts on the insurance industry. For example, many carriers are refunding a portion of personal and commercial lines premiums because of the expected decrease in the number of reportable property-casualty claims.
However, there are some areas of increased risk, particularly in the liability arena, which are easily forgotten. Discuss these four risks with your clients:
1) Internet libel. With weeks of social distancing, tensions are running high. While all households are facing the never-ending avalanche of chores, the “new normal” varies drastically. Some are navigating online work with regular interruptions from children and pets. Some have the added financial pressure of unemployment while others are facing different challenges as essential workers.
People naturally turn toward the internet to share their thoughts and to vent their frustrations. When you add in the additional strain of caring for children and acquiring food and basic goods, all while in social isolation, it’s easy to understand how the current levels of tension may result in increased vitriol. It could manifest as a scathing review of a business that fell short of expectations, a social media post blasting a neighbor or a child defaming a teacher.
While personal injury coverage is important, it isn’t covered by all policies and even fewer cover internet libel.
2) Unforeseen injuries. Another liability exposure is related to social isolation. Many community playgrounds, parks and pools have been closed for some time. While adults understand why they were closed, many children do not. With the school year ending, the adventurous or bored may find their way onto properties with playsets, pools, ponds and streams, or other attractive nuisances.
Whether trespassing or not, it represents a very real liability exposure should a child be injured, or worse, while on your client’s property.
3) Pedestrian and bicycle collisions. Even under normal circumstances, one of the most frequent causes of large liability claims is auto accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists. With the weather warming up, and people unable to hit the gym, a higher-than-average number of people are getting exercise with a regular run or bike ride.
As a result, more bicycles are sharing the road with vehicles. Plus, the sidewalks are busier than ever, which sometimes forces pedestrians onto the street to create safe distances. When you also add in children exploring their neighborhoods or heading to the corner store, there is a heightened potential for collision with a pedestrian or bicyclist.
4) Reduced coverage. These situations are compounded by customers seeking to reduce coverage or drop insurance altogether. When facing a tragedy, such as hitting a pedestrian, or a hassle, such as getting sued for a hastily written review, the last thing you want to also deal with is inadequate coverage to satisfy the claim. Helping your customers fully understand the impact of coverage changes is important to do now—before the unthinkable happens.
Your independent agent superpowers of ease, choice and advice have never been more important! Educating your existing customers and your community at large is critical at times like these. Ensuring people understand their insurance and their risk is even more so.