Coronavirus is affecting us all and as the situation continues to evolve, so does our response. Our efforts are focused on four key elements; our customers, our workforce, our operations and our contribution to society.
During this period, many of our customers are being affected by cancelled travel plans or events, or interruption to their business, and where our policies cover these events, we are handling claims swiftly and fairly. We have already paid out on a full or interim basis to many customers, and continue to process new claims daily.
We are also providing automatic extensions to cover on some of our policies, as well as a range of financial concessions, including hibernation cover, to help customers through this difficult time. Please see the links below to our relevant local company websites for more details on specific products and claims.
We currently have over 95% of our 3500+ staff around the world, from claims and underwriting, to IT and operations, all working from home. We are supporting them via flexible working as, in many cases, they juggle work with childcare, and providing mental health and wellbeing services through our employee assistance programmes and our employee network, WeMind. All in all, the transition to home-working has gone well and our teams remain contactable via the usual telephone numbers and email addresses.
Hiscox is not furloughing any staff, and we are not accessing any government support schemes. We have also committed to stand by our existing employees by retaining all current roles during this time.
We have established four distinct workstreams, led by senior executives, to manage our response. They cover our ability to operate effectively and the day-to-day coordination of the business; underwriting exposure and customer service through claims; maintaining our financial flexibility and resilience; and working with our regulators and governments around the world.
Where we can, we are redeploying more people to provide frontline support to ensure we continue to deal with all our customers effectively and efficiently. We aim to operate as close to business as usual as possible, but because of the circumstances we may fall short of our usual service levels, so please bear with us as we work to return to normal standards.
Our contribution to society
Supporting the communities we serve and the areas we operate in has long been a feature of our business, and as a Group we have pledged over $4 million to support the global response to COVID-19. Our contribution is focused on supporting our existing charity partners and specific vulnerable groups affected by this crisis, and improving access to SME services at a time when they are most needed.
We have established new partnerships in the US with Accion, which provides capital, coaching and connections to entrepreneurs; the Women’s Business Development Center, which offers technical assistance and financial advisory services including micro-lending to women and underserved communities; and the Women’s Business Enterprise Council, which serves established businesses by providing networking, programming, and financial consulting services. In the UK, we are working with Swoop to improve small business access to funding, and with Business in the Community as part of their National Business Response Network which connects business support with community need.
We have also donated to a range of good causes in the UK, including hospices, food banks, the Royal Voluntary Service, St John Ambulance, Age UK, Action for Children and Insurance United Against Dementia. These efforts are echoed in other parts of the Hiscox Group, where for example we have funded ventilators for hospitals in Guernsey and Bermuda, and supported the Red Cross in Spain.
The insurance industry has come together to make a difference and we are playing our part. The Covid-19 Support Fund, established by the Association of British Insurers in the UK, aims to provide financial support to community-based charities as quickly as possible in partnership with the Charities Aid Foundation and a network of partners, including the National Emergencies Trust.
How are we responding?