From the Underwriting Desk
Veronica Wilkins, Underwriting Manager
As the underwriting manager of the Northeast region, I would like to thank all our internal and external stakeholders for their open dialogue, constant communication, and adaptability. We have heard repeatedly from experts that none of us has experienced anything of this magnitude, yet there is a strong sense of community and resiliency in the air with COVID-19.
The Northeast has been one of the more severely affected areas in the country. With the extreme challenges that many of our customers have had to face, our team has tried its best to collaborate with them with a positive and open mindset.
Underwriting, in simple terms, is evaluating and analyzing the risks involved in your operation and establishing pricing for accepted insurable risks. This sometimes means being strict when it comes to certain guidelines, such as our auto standards or primary manufacturing standards. However, it also requires flexibility when crafting solutions to fit both the customer’s and the insurance company’s needs, especially in light of a crisis.
Adversity has brought on some sincere and personal conversations with our insureds and brokers. We have had various discussions from concerns of shutdowns, dropping sales, and technological changes. Some insureds have shared that their small business was their livelihood and didn’t know how they were going to make it through this period. They were looking to cancel their policy as a means to save money. It may have been easier for us to say okay and move on to the next account, but we wanted to see if we could find a way to help them instead.
Other customers have asked us to help reevaluate their policies without losing the integrity of their insurance needs. We have worked with these customers to assess their policies and identify areas with room for adjustments. We have also had some customers step up to support communities in this crisis by shifting their wood operations to produce PPE, like plastic face shields. This may be outside of our normal underwriting appetite, but we saw it as a wonderful way to provide support to first responders during this crisis. We evaluated what our policyholders wanted to do, and gave them the tools to protect themselves while helping others.
The pandemic is financially, mentally, and emotionally taxing to all. We at PLM have been cognizant of that and have taken a delicate balance to approaching each insured based on their current needs. No matter the situation, we are willing to take the time to have the conversations and look for creative solutions to try to make things work for all stakeholders.
As we continue to communicate and adapt, know that PLM is with you every step of the way through this pandemic and beyond.
From the Field
Paul Kremer, Business Development Representative
With COVID-19 affecting the whole world, we have seen people, communities, and industries changing and adapting to survive these unprecedented times. In North Carolina, my home and territory in which I service PLM customers, I have seen a range of effects. Some businesses have shuttered, and some are just now getting up and running again. Others have remained open using different methods such as curbside pickup. There have also been several customers in my territory that have thrived, seeing an increase in sales.
The one constant for all these businesses is that things are not the same. COVID-19 has required all of us to relook at how we go on with our daily tasks and operations and make significant changes to our routines and behaviors. Yet, most importantly, our industry has not halted, but has pressed on.
On behalf of my fellow business development and loss control colleagues, I would like to thank our customers and prospects for allowing us to make our inspections and continue our business during these difficult times. We are still in the field conducting loss control inspections, making recommendations to prevent and reduce losses, and building relationships with our customers and prospects. Now more than ever, PLM is with you to help you navigate these uncertain times.
Your safety and that of your employees is our top priority. We have adapted to make sure you feel comfortable and safe with our visits to your business. Here are some safety measures we can take during our visits:
- Wear masks
- Refrain from shaking hands
- Practice social distancing as much as possible
- Use hand sanitizer or wash our hands after each appointment
- Meet outside or in an open area instead of an office or conference room
- Conduct the inspection ourselves and report our findings or ask questions before we leave
- Schedule inspections at the beginning or end of day or during break time to limit exposure to employees
- Be efficient with our time spent at your business by gathering information prior to or after the appointment
Technology has also provided additional resources for us during this time. If you are uncomfortable with a business development or loss control visit, we are able to schedule virtual inspections. During a virtual inspection, we will be conducting a video call using FaceTime or a similar application. You will serve as our guide around your operation. We will let you know any items we will want to see such as dust collection systems, areas around the machinery, spray booths, sprinkler risers, customer areas, etc.
I encourage you to visit our website at www.plmins.com, which has valuable loss control information including a COVID-19 resource center. As always, your business development or loss control representative is only a phone call or email away. Thank you for your partnership with PLM. We look forward to seeing you soon.