ILC ARTICLE

Covid-19 puts the emphasis on versatility


Employers and employees will need to be more versatile in the future, with working habits and job roles both permanently affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

That was the verdict of the 18th ARC360 webinar, held in association with I Love Claims, which looked at how the workforce has changed as a result of the pandemic, and examined which of these changes might stick.

Taking part were Dave Thompson, director of claims, Tesco Underwriting; Jane Pocock, managing director, UK & Ireland, Copart; and Andy Lawlor, business development director, Motofix.

Perception

Dave said that while the perception is that insurers are sometimes cumbersome and slow to react, Tesco Underwriting and the wider insurance industry had actually surprised itself with how fleet-footed its response to the crisis had been.

He said, ‘We were able to move unbelievably quickly. We implemented seismic changes in the space of 10 days and I actually think most insurers were surprised at how quickly they could move to satisfy the demands of colleagues, in terms of home working, while still serving their customers.

‘This has definitely accelerated our plans around a digitised workforce and remote working, and I think now all organisations with large numbers of staff in a large office environment will have to think about their own operating models and location strategies. We’ll definitely see a significant increase in the flexible workforce.’

Flexibility

Jane agreed with that assessment, saying that while Copart has traditionally been a ‘social’ company, both internally and externally, the success of its remote working practices during lockdown will inevitably lead to lasting change.

‘Employers will be expected to offer flexible working going forward,’ she said, adding that policies that might have taken years to implement would now be in place in a much shorter time frame, if they weren’t already.

She said, ‘We will continue to offer flexible working and look at extending office hours and changing the timetable for auctions to run some in the evenings and at weekends.’

Meanwhile, the pandemic is expected to affect the workforce in another way too, with employees showing themselves to be far more flexible than previously given the opportunity to demonstrate.

Andy explained, ‘People have found themselves in job roles they wouldn’t have normally been in and their ability to adapt has been a real take-home for me. So, going forward, we’ll look to have a far more dynamic, multi-skilled workforce with a real can-do attitude.’

Impact

Although all stakeholders in the industry have been disrupted by the crisis, what that disruption looks like differs from sector-to-sector. With such a mixed panel of contributors, the webinar provided three valuable and very different perspectives.

From an insurers point of view, Dave said there has been an increase in VRU (vulnerable road user) claims, in line with more people cycling and walking, alongside a substantial decrease in fraud – both in terms of multi-occupancy claims and staged collisions.

‘With fewer vehicles on the road there isn’t the same opportunity to brake hard in front of someone,’ he said.

For Motofix, which operates sites in eight different counties, its large geographical footprint revealed spikes in job types from region-to-region. For example, Andy said there has been a rise in heavily damaged vehicles in the South West, and these insights have enabled the group to redeploy work where necessary.

Meanwhile, Jane said more Copart customers wanted vehicles that could be quickly and easily repaired as they sought an alternative to public transport, adding that there has also been greater demand for the use of green parts in repair.

Growth

In terms of volumes, the recent trend of steady growth appears to be ongoing despite a slight slowdown in the last seven days.

ARC360 partner Entegral, which measures Enterprise Rent-A-Car customer claims activity, reported a seven per cent decrease in week-on-week claims volumes, but a 42% increase month-on-month, with new hotspots identified in Romford, Weybridge, High Wycombe, York, Southampton and Poole.

Those figures were largely recognised by the panel, with Andy predicting a ‘slow and gradual return’, and Dave reporting that Tesco Underwriting was currently tracking at 60-67% and he wasn’t expecting a step change in the last quarter of 2020 or the first quarter of 2021.

However, Jane said Copart volumes could be back to 100% inside six months, driven in large part by more activity on its digital sales platform.

She said, ‘We’ve seen a definite shift in the market there, so we’re fairly optimistic about returning to normal in the next six months.’

Future

Going forward, all three panellists spoke about the need to maintain the greater collaboration that has emerged during the lockdown. Dave explained how his repair network has been ‘fantastically helpful’ throughout and was greatly encouraged that those facing severe hardships felt confident enough to approach Tesco Underwriting.

He said, ‘They came and spoke to us and we were able to find a solution together. Maybe in previous years that wouldn’t have happened.’

Jane added, ‘I think we’ve all learned to be more understanding of each other’s challenges, and we’d like that to continue. We’d like more regular contact with suppliers and customers.’

Unintended consequence

Meanwhile, one unintended yet positive consequence of the crisis could be greater confidence within the industry. Having come through such an ordeal, often as a result of bold action, businesses could well approach future challenges with the same self-assurance.

Andy explained how Covid-19 had exposed certain limits within his bodyshop management system. In the past, the disruption of changing IT infrastructure might have made the business think twice.

He said, ‘We knew what it could do, but we needed it do to different things. We will be making changes now this crisis has given us the confidence to make big changes and that’s something we’ll continue to do going forward.’

ARC360, in association with I Love Claims, is supported by corporate partners ACIS, BMS, Copart, EMACS, Entegral, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Nationwide Vehicle Recovery Assistance, S&G Response and CAPS; partners The Green Parts Specialist, Indasa, and Innovation Group; and strategic partners AutoRaise, NBRA, RepairTalks and TrendTracker.

Please find below the slidedeck used during the webinar:

ARC360-2020-Slides-webinar-18

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