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COVID-19’s Impact on Homeowners Insurance

Here are three takeaways on how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the home insurance industry.
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Mishaps at home haven’t stopped in light of the ongoing pandemic. Moreover, weather disasters are happening and will continue to happen independently of the ongoing health crisis. Today, as many people spend more time at home, insurers and agents have an opportunity to introduce and underscore their value to homeowners.

Here are three takeaways on how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the home insurance industry, and how agents can work with carriers and homeowners to adjust their business strategies:

1) What insurance carriers are considering. As people continue to stay at home, and even in places where people have slowly started to return to work, insurance carriers are seeing a shift in the kinds of claims customers are filing. More frequent and minor claims, such as water damage, have increased due to increased usage while people are at home. However, larger claims are decreasing because many homeowners can catch potentially dangerous and damaging incidents before they develop into full-blown disasters.

For customers who have second homes, it’s expected that claims will increase while those residences are left unsupervised for extended periods of time.

Agents selling insurance right now should consider placing homeowners with a carrier that has self-service programs in place, like instant online quoting and intelligent text messaging to help manage claims.

2) What homeowners want. While the pandemic has dramatically slowed home-buying—one of the main motivators for shopping for home insurance—financial challenges have replaced moving as a reason to research companies providing better coverage at a lower price.

Rates vary widely, and companies offer a simple way to compare home insurance rates and coverages that will save money now and when a claim occurs. Agents should keep in mind that shoppers will likely seek a carrier that provides quotes efficiently, offers substantial coverage at a good price and has methods for limiting in-person contact.

A carrier’s response to coronavirus concerns can clearly illustrate whether their current policy is the best fit for them. A financially strong, and personally thoughtful insurer, will acknowledge the current economic hardships of many of its customers. Quality carriers will respond by suspending cancellations for hardship or waiving late fee penalties.

3) What insurance agents need. Insurance agents are finding that they can accomplish many of their regular duties from home. However, bans on public gatherings have cost agents what many consider to be a cornerstone of their practice: face-to-face networking and personal referrals.

Talking about their job at community events provide agents the opportunity to foster relationships they can turn into new customers and drive sales. Without this form of networking, agents should lean on the insurance carriers they represent to assist.

Insurers who have invested in selling products virtually will be agents’ strongest support. The faster those carriers can deliver quotes to customers, the more time agents have to advise on coverage options, and the more time they will get back in each workday to focus on business-building tactics.

The home insurance industry is not insulated from the new normal. Agents should consider what their customers need right now, like cost savings with no delay, and the impact the coronavirus has had on their own business. They should also lean on technology-leading insurance carriers to help them put their best foot forward.

Bill Martin is the president and CEO of Plymouth Rock Home Insurance Group.