Given the ever-changing dynamics of COVID-19, now is the time for brokers to embrace and support clients and prospects to help them get through this unprecedented time. This blog post is based on ThinkHR and Mammoth’s “COVID-19: What Brokers Need to Know” webinar that was recorded on April 2, 2020. It covers five critical ways brokers can assist clients and prospects.
Employers are facing challenges in helping employees maintain their health care coverage. Eligibility is complex, especially with an unprecedented level of layoffs, furloughs, and terminations. Brokers can work with carriers on options to allow employees to remain active for coverage for a period of time, even if they are not working full time. If regular coverage ends, continuation options under COBRA or a state’s mini-COBRA law may be available but often are unaffordable for many employees. In that case, brokers should advise about other possible options, such as:
Many families were already under a great deal of stress before the pandemic hit, and now people are experiencing additional stress and anxiety due to this once-in-a-lifetime event. Employers need to be alert about likely increased mental health demands and a greater need for employees to access mental health services. Brokers can work with employers to identify coverage through their health plan or through an employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Note that employees may need to be reminded that their employer is providing an EAP, and assured of confidentiality.
Remote work has been fairly common with some employers for years. But there’s a whole new group of employers that are either experiencing a work-at-home workforce for the first time or with a lot more participation than before. The increase in employees working from home can create risks for employers. Brokers can advise clients about formal work-at-home agreements, which serve to make workers aware of their employer’s expectations, rules, and guidelines.
Brokers also need to advise their clients of an increased risk of workers’ compensation claims.
In the event an employee is injured in the course of their employment while working at home, they may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Brokers should consider keeping workers’ compensation benefits confined to employees’ actual employment, and not broadened to cover any and all injuries that occur at home.
The marketplace is buzzing with issues pertaining to business income coverage (also called business interruption coverage) and whether a virus is considered property damage, and whether the clients’ business income coverage contains a virus exclusion. One big question is whether brokers should report claims, even if they feel there is no coverage.
One strategy is to have clients submit claims. The reason is that brokers don’t typically make coverage determinations; if a client is curious about coverage, then they should file a claim.
A broker’s best approach right now is to simply offer help and support. This is known as empathetic prospecting. It can be as simple as reaching out to a client or prospect and having a conversation. If questions or concerns come up, brokers should be willing to find answers. By putting customers or prospects first, brokers can still maintain a growth mindset during these tragic times.
For more information about these and other broker tips, watch the full webinar recording. And for more resources to help employers, please visit ThinkHR and Mammoth’s COVID-19 Crisis Response Center. Essential resources like updated FAQs, sample work from home policies, and summaries of FFCRA legislation and guidance are clickable and downloadable.
The combined entity of ThinkHR and Mammoth is a trusted provider of HR knowledge and technology-powered employer solutions. The two companies deliver HR on-demand to hundreds of thousands of small- and medium-sized businesses nationwide.