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Pandemic: insurers activate their business continuity plans

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Australia’s three largest insurers have introduced new arrangements such as using live videos to assess claims as the Federal Government moves to considering even tougher measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

IAG, Suncorp and QBE say the new arrangements will ensure they can continue to engage and address customer needs, even when more stringent social distancing restrictions are implemented.

IAG says it will be increasing the use of virtual assessing processes to minimise face-to-face interaction with customers who have made claims. This will include using a live video assessment.

In cases where virtual assessing is not possible, assessors and customers will be asked a set of “appropriate” screening questions before IAG arranges for the assessment to take place. IAG assessors will also use personal protective equipment and act based on the advice of health and safety authorities.

“This is a difficult and uncertain time as [COVID-19] impacts our communities,” IAG says in a statement. “We have taken a range of measures to protect our people, customers and the wider community and this will continue to be based on the latest health and safety advice.

“We intend to maintain a high level of business continuity during this uncertain period and we are confident that the plans we have implemented will help ensure this.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will hold another National Cabinet meeting tonight to consider possibly new lockdown actions after the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose to more than 2250 today.

Last night he announced more restrictions on public activities, halting real estate auctions and open house inspections. Businesses such as waxing salons and tattoo parlours must shut indefinitely. He also upgraded the travel guidance from a “do not travel” warning to an outright ban on overseas travel.

QBE says it has activated its business continuity plans for staff in the Philippines after the Government of Rodrigo Duterte placed half the country in an “enhanced community quarantine”.

“We have robust business continuity management plans in each of our international locations and these have been enacted to ensure we can provide continuous service to our customers during this time,” a QBE spokesman told today.

“While our teams in both Manila and Cebu have experienced disruptions, our business continuity arrangements, including enhanced work-from-home capabilities for our Philippines teams, mean we are continuing to meet the needs of our customers at this time.

“Within our operations we are taking all reasonable precautions to keep our people safe and well.”

Suncorp says the majority of its workforce locally and in New Zealand started working from home on Monday, but this will not affect the quality of its customer service.

“Our scale and experience puts us in good stead to manage this new way of working and we assure our customers that we stand ready to support them through this challenging time,” the insurer says.