Across almost every industry, companies have modified the way they conduct business in response to COVID-19. Despite making substantial changes to their operations, many companies are still using the same insurance coverage they adopted before the pandemic, unaware that many shifts caused by COVID have opened them up to new risks and exposures.
From the increased cyber liability of a remote workforce to the additional risks involved in offering more deliveries to customers, many business owners may exit the pandemic with an entirely new set of exposures to consider.
If you own or run a business, there are several questions you may want to assess as you think about the future of your company. Your business insurance coverage can be modified at any time. Whether you have shifted your operations temporarily or permanently, your broker should be aware of significant changes so they can advise you of the risks.
No matter the type of business you operate, you have likely been required to change how you offer products and services to your customers throughout the pandemic. Many business owners fail to realize that these types of changes introduce new risks.
Consider the following questions:
- If you run a retail business, are you offering or servicing more deliveries than you did before the pandemic? Are you shipping a higher volume of products to clients in general?
- Have you made changes to the products or services you offer? Has your manufacturing changed? For example, many businesses began manufacturing and selling hand sanitizer for the first time during the pandemic. If your products changed or expanded during the pandemic, will you continue offering them when the pandemic is over?
- Have you made changes to the way you serve your clients? For example, are you offering e-commerce for the first time or servicing a higher volume of clients through e-commerce?
- Has your venue or location changed? Are your customers required to visit a different location or spend time in adverse weather conditions to access your products or services? For example, are your clients required to wait outside in line due to capacity limits?
- Are you selling your products into new markets and/or to new buyers?
Each of these changes can potentially expose your business to new risks. If you’ve made any fundamental changes to the way you run your business, you should notify your broker so they can make the best possible recommendations for your coverage.
Depending on your business, your relationship to your physical work location may have changed during the pandemic, causing you to reassess your capacity needs.
- Are you planning to keep any of your business operations remote after the pandemic?
- If you have more than one office location, have any of these closed during the pandemic?
- Are you rethinking the size or scale of your physical workplace location?
- With fewer people physically present on your business’s premises, do you have security concerns? Are you adequately protected from theft and vandalism?
Whether you plan to take your business operations fully remote, use a hybrid model of remote and in-person work, or otherwise change your physical premises, your broker should be made aware so they can right-size your coverage for you.
Countless businesses began dealing with a remote workforce for the first time in 2020, and many of them will continue to conduct at least some operations remotely post-pandemic. While many businesses plan to return all employees to the workplace when it’s safe to do so, others may allow some or all employees to remain remote.
If you have employees working remotely, it’s critical to ask yourself the following questions when you consider your cybersecurity risk:
- How many of your employees are working remotely? How many of them will continue to work remotely after the pandemic?
- Have you provided cyber risk training for your employees to help them avoid common security pitfalls, such as phishing scams?
- Do your employees frequently travel with corporate computers or mobile devices in their vehicles, exposing them to a greater theft risk?
- Does your company handle sensitive or confidential personal data? Do your employees have the proper protocols in place to ensure that documents containing sensitive data are securely locked away in their home office?
Developing the digital infrastructure to support remote work can introduce many new cybersecurity risks that should be carefully considered to assess your current insurance coverage. Your broker can provide information on the cyber liability coverage options that make sense for you.
Other remote work concerns
Beyond cybersecurity, a remote workforce introduces extra complications that you may want to consider, particularly if your employees plan to continue working remotely full-time or part-time in the future.
- Do your employees have ergonomically suitable setups to avoid repetitive strain injuries (which can lead to future disability claims)?
- Are there any short- or long-term quality control issues associated with your employees working remotely? Is your workforce able to perform at the same level of productivity as they did before the pandemic?
When considering the pandemic’s effects, it’s essential to evaluate the impact of remote work on your business, both now and in the future.
Planning a return to the workplace
When it comes to returning your employees to an in-person work environment, there are many factors to assess. If you plan to return your employees to working on-location at your premises in the future, you may wish to evaluate the following questions:
- Are you following all Public Health regulations and guidelines to ensure that your return is a safe one?
- Does your return-to-the-workplace plan follow Occupational Health and Safety Agency (OHSA) guidelines?
- Are your employees uncomfortable with coming back into the office? What are you doing to alleviate their health and safety concerns?
- Does your group benefits plan offer any mental health support to employees as they navigate the change of returning to the workplace, such as an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)?
- Does your business face any concerns over retaining talent as you move back to an in-person environment?
- Have any of your employees moved too far from the workplace to commute during the pandemic?
Returning employees to an in-person environment after an extended period of remote work is complex, particularly when navigating Public Health and OHSA requirements. Many elements of your return-to-the-workplace plan could expose you to new risks; be sure to discuss your plans with your broker so they can ensure the appropriate business insurance coverage for you.
Choosing the right business insurance coverage post-pandemic
COVID-19 has required almost every business to adapt their operations quickly to ensure the safety of their customers, employees, and communities. As you consider the changes you have made to your business throughout the pandemic, it’s crucial to make proactive decisions about your insurance coverage and whether it’s adequate for your current and future operations.
Unsure if you’re covered for some of your new risks? Contact a Cowan broker today to discuss your coverage and make sure your business is protected.