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Planning for an uncertain future

Joel Quam

What a year 2020 has been! While change is constant, I imagine very few of us could have predicted the profound and immediate changes caused by COVID-19. The fact remains that what is certain is uncertainty. As such, we have to adapt, change, and find a way forward. One of the best ways to prepare for uncertainty caused by COVID-19 is to have a robust action plan. In fact, the survival of your business may depend on it.

Do you have clearly written guidelines to show your employees and customers that you prioritize their safety? If your employees or customers test positive for COVID-19, do you know how to communicate that information internally and externally? Having a plan shows that you prioritize the safety of both your employees and customers. It also helps you discover gaps in your liability and insurance coverage.

Importance of updating your COVID-19 Action Plan

Most businesses have a safety plan at this point. However, as the effects of the pandemic evolve, so should your action plan. The following points are some basic guidelines that you can modify to meet your business needs while taking all relevant federal, state and local compliance requirements into account. While these guidelines are not meant to be an exhaustive list or legal advice, it provides a good starting point:

  • Define the goal or objective of your plan. You should clearly state your intent, which is to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to safeguard your staff, visitors and customers.
  • Define responsibilities. Outline the role your managers and supervisors play in your plan and make sure they are aware of what is expected of them. Outline the role your employees play. They should know how to identify COVID-19 symptoms and the importance of practicing good hygiene and social distancing guidelines.
  • Establish a Pandemic Response Team to oversee your plan. This team should be aware of the latest information, CDC and OHSA guidelines and modify the action plan as needed.
  • Establish Safety Policies specific to COVID-19. Have a plan to acquire face masks, hand sanitizers and enhance cleaning and disinfecting procedures as per CDC’s recommendation. 
  • Establish guidelines for visitors. It is a good idea to limit the number of visitors and only allow those necessary to your business. Properly screen any visitors before they enter your facility to assess their current health. Have them sign a safety acknowledgement and liability release form as appropriate.
  • Establish self-quarantine and return to work procedures. Have clear instructions for what employees need to do if they test positive for COVID-19.
  • Work from home policy. If some of your employees can work remotely, this is a great way to reduce overall exposure to COVID-19 and is something your organization should consider doing indefinitely. If your organization chooses this option, having remote work guidelines can help your remote workers stay productive and know how they can seek technological support if they need to.
  • Review your insurance policy to identify gaps in your coverage. Your current insurance policy may no longer be enough to cover your risks in this pandemic. It is likely that you may need to update your coverage or better understand what your limits are.

An overlooked effect of Covid-19

Many businesses are choosing the option of letting their employees work remotely, which means having a robust cyber insurance policy is more important now than ever. Home networks are often much less secure than corporate networks, which increases exposure risk to phishing scams, corporate ransomware and doxware attacks. The FBI has reported a staggering 400% increase in the number of cyberattack complaints since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To better protect your business from the effects of COVID-19, it is important to have a comprehensive plan that includes cyber liability insurance. If your business has a cyber insurance policy, consult your insurance provider to better understand the limits of your coverage and to discuss the need to update your policy.

If you are waiting for the world to go back to normal, you may be stuck waiting. Instead, take the time to develop a comprehensive action plan for your business. Once you have one, review it periodically, make changes when necessary and share that information with your employees. The benefits of a little planning far outweigh the stress and potentially detrimental consequences of not being prepared for an outbreak at your business.

There are COVID-19 preparedness plan templates and resources online or contact your Bremer Insurance advisor for where to start. If you are overwhelmed or have questions, reach out to your insurance provider or legal counsel for assistance in developing and implementing an action plan that minimizes your business risks.

Joel Quam

About Joel Quam

Joel has served as an Insurance Advisor at Bremer since 2016 delivering comprehensive insurance programs to meet commercial operational risk management needs with the right balance of coverage and cost. By working with customers to first identify areas of risk and exposure, he can recommend solutions from highly rated insurance carriers with outstanding products and services. Before assuming his current role, Joel served in the commercial financing industry and has experience working with select niche industries in the financial services and insurance market. Joel holds a bachelor’s degree from Mankato State University. He also holds a Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist (CLCS) and a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation. Joel volunteers at his local church singing and playing guitar in the praise team band. An Alexandria, Minnesota, resident, Joel lives with his wife and two children and enjoys spending time with his family, being outdoors, golfing, hunting, working out and playing guitar.)

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