Risk Services Of Arkansas - June 2020

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On the Subject of Change and Human Nature

Has the world changed forever? As we dealt with the dangers and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, that was the question many people were asking. When we were in the thick of the pandemic, it certainly felt like a huge change. Unlike most states, Arkansas didn’t issue a statewide stay-at-home order — I’ll save my opinion about these orders for one-on-one conversations. However, even without the order, daily life for us came almost to a standstill. My wife and I were still going to work, but restaurants and bars were closed, gyms were shut down, and hair salons had locked their doors. I get my haircut every three weeks, so by late April, after two missed appointments, I am about ready to put my hair in a ponytail! In early April, schools were also closed across the state for the rest of the school year, and one of the saddest things for me personally was watching my stepdaughter lose the spring semester of her senior year in high school. My recollection is that the last semester was the best part of high school. Overall, I had a great time in high school, but that last semester was nothing but enjoying golf and baseball seasons, blowing off classes, and going to parties and prom. It’s the great last chapter before taking that leap into quasi-adulthood. Unfortunately, the world has definitely changed for this class of kids who won’t ever get to have those memories or, for some, even a graduation ceremony.

As I write this in late April, there’s no clear idea of how long this thing will get dragged out. While kids are missing out on school, their parents are losing their jobs (and their sanity). Over 25 million people have been forced to file for unemployment. Even if most of these folks are able to get their jobs back once the virus passes, that could leave a long-lasting impact. As for the people lucky enough to keep their jobs, a lot of them have had to adapt to working remotely for a month or two. Some people have suggested that remote work may become the new norm. I’m not sure I agree with that. For most businesses, I don’t believe that working from home is the most productive option. This isn’t to say people aren’t working hard when they work remotely, but I think you lose out on the synergy, the energy and the camaraderie of a good office culture. It’s also important to acknowledge the fact that most people aren’t working from home; they’re working at home under duress during a crisis. That’s very different from being able to choose to work remotely. Over the last few months, so many things have changed, but human nature is not one of them. It might take a while, maybe until there’s a treatment or a vaccine, but once things go back to normal, I think most of us will be happy to jump back into our prior routines. People will be able to find jobs and go back to the office, kids will be back in school, restaurants will be thriving, and we’ll all be able to spend time together again ... maybe even at a football game! No, I don’t think COVID-19 has changed the world forever. I, for one, am really looking forward to hitting the gym, going out to eat at a restaurant, and getting a haircut — not necessarily in that order.

“One of the saddest things for me personally was watching my stepdaughter lose the spring semester of her senior year.”

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YOUR CUSTOMERS MATTER

When we find ourselves in a situation that is out of our control, all we can do is focus on the things we can control. As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world, many people felt like they had no control over their lives. Jayde Powell, a pre-med student from the University of Nevada, turned her attention on what she could control: helping others. For older people or those with compromised immune systems, grocery shopping during a pandemic is a huge health risk. After hearing that her mother had reached out to elderly neighbors and asked if they needed supplies, Powell decided to create a free grocery delivery service dedicated to helping at-risk individuals. The organization, dubbed Shopping Angels, started with Powell and a few dozen members of her medical fraternity. Powell founded Shopping Angels in late February. Within weeks, she was spearheading an international movement. National news outlets picked up the Shopping Angels story, and President Trump even mentioned the organization during a televised briefing. Powell found herself flooded with emails and phone calls, not just from people who needed help grocery shopping, but from hundreds of people who wanted to volunteer and help their own communities. She’s even had food banks and manufacturers reach out to donate goods. “It’s just mind-blowing,” Powell said. “We have branches starting in Canada and Australia that are going to try and do the same thing. It’s just so exciting to see how the communities are wanting to give back.” While the Shopping Angels delivery service is free, clients must still pay for the groceries. In order to help those on a tighter budget, Powell started a GoFundMe account, raising donations to make sure everyone is able to get what they need during the crisis. The success of Shopping Angels highlights how communities can come together and reminds us all that one person really can make a difference.

Right now, finding new customers is easier said than done, but relationship marketing could be your ticket to surviving and thriving. After all, there’s no better asset to a business than its customers. Relationship marketing places a high value on the customers you already have and focuses on how you can continue to serve them so they keep doing business with you. The idea is to go above and beyond what the customer expects from you and continually keep in touch with them. This includes sending monthly newsletters, communicating via email, offering monthly specials, and providing loyalty and referral rewards. In turn, your customers will remember your name and be more likely to recommend you to their friends and family. People take the word of their loved ones very seriously, and your customers could serve as the driving force you need to get new business in the door. In fact, studies point to consumers placing a higher value on the word of their loved ones than advertisements. It’s one thing for you to talk about your customer service, but it’s a whole other ballgame to hear about it from one of your customers. In addition, this constant contact with your customers gives you a plethora of feedback opportunities. When your customers trust you, they are honest with you, and you learn more ways you can grow or find weak links in your process. Granted, relationship marketing can be one of the more expensive marketing tactics, but according to Harvard Business Review, a 5% increase in customer retention can translate into 25%–95% profit increases. That value is worth more than a little extra investing. Now more than ever, you must focus on the customers you are already serving. Get your team together and collaborate on the ways you can show up for your customers, encourage them to recommend you, and wow them into becoming lifelong clients. Pro Tip: If you want to get in contact with your customers on a more frequent basis, reach out to our team about this newsletter! We can connect you with The Newsletter Pro, which helps us create it each month. Maximize Your Business’s Success With Relationship Marketing

Learn more about the Shopping Angels mission by visiting its Facebook page at Facebook.com/ShoppingAngelsInc.

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Pandemics and Workers’ Comp

CAN EMPLOYEES INFECTED WITH COVID-19 FILE A CLAIM?

W orkers’ compensation laws vary from state to state, but typically, a regular disease that the general public is exposed to is not considered an occupational disease. For example, an employee wouldn’t be compensated for a claim if they caught a cold from a coworker. However, COVID-19 is not what we would classify as a “regular” disease. When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, businesses were encouraged to take precautions to protect their employees and their customers. In some states, this meant nonessential businesses that could not transition to remote work were forced to close entirely. Meanwhile, employees who were deemed essential were required to still go out and interact with the public in order to do their jobs. Given these conditions, could essential employees who become infected with COVID-19 file a workers’ comp claim? For federal employees, the answer is simple. The U.S. Department of Labor has stated that “all federal employees who develop COVID-19 while in the performance of their federal duties are entitled to workers’ compensation coverage pursuant to the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA).” However, this does not answer the question of workers’ comp for nonfederal employees who have been deemed essential in their states. Can medical providers or even grocery store cashiers — both positions that require interaction with the public and that put workers at higher risk of contracting the virus — file a workers’ comp claim if they become infected while on the job? This is a difficult question to answer. In order for an illness to be covered under workers’ comp, it must meet the criteria of an occupational illness. There are two tests to determine this: 1. The illness arose within the scope and course of employment duties. 2. The illness must be the result of conditions “peculiar” to the employment duties. (See more below.)

In an article published by the Insurance Journal, Chris Boggs, executive director of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America Virtual University warns that these tests are often subject to interpretation based on various state laws. And during this crisis, it’s entirely possible that governors, and legislatures or workers’ compensation commissions could change or modify existing state laws to “force” coverage. “Qualifying as ‘occupational’ is the low hurdle,” Boggs writes. “The higher hurdle is whether the illness or disease is ‘peculiar’ to the work. If the illness or disease is not peculiar to the work, it is not occupational and thus not compensable under workers’ compensation. An illness or disease is ‘peculiar’ to the work when such a disease is found almost exclusively to workers in a certain field or there is an increased exposure to the illness or disease because of the employee’s working conditions.” A noteworthy example of a disease that is peculiar to working conditions is coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, better known as black lung. In the course of their work duties, coal miners breathe in higher-than-normal levels of coal dust. This can lead to any number of lung diseases, which makes black lung disease peculiar to the coal mining industry. What does this mean for the COVID-19 pandemic? Ultimately there is no hard and fast rule. While essential employees certainly have a peculiarity about their work duties that increases their risk of exposure during a pandemic, any claim will be assessed individually, based on the facts of the case. A nurse who became ill after working with COVID-19 patients may have a stronger case to file a workers’ comp claim than a grocery clerk who cannot prove they were infected by a customer in the checkout line. A final note of caution: If you are confronted with this situation, we reccomend turning the potential claim over to your carrier and letting them determine whether or not it is compensable.

Have a Laugh!

Easy way out on pg. 4

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INSIDE This Issue

The Hardest Thing to Change page 1

Maximize Your Business’s Success With Relationship Marketing Shopping Angels Serves Communities Around the World page 2 Is COVID-19 Covered Under Workers’ Comp? Sudoku page 3

The Secret to Leading in a Crisis page 4

UNSURE OF HOW TO LEAD YOUR BUSINESS THROUGH A CRISIS?

‘The Agony of Decision’ Has Answers

demonstrate the right way to respond … and the gateway to disaster.”

When business coach and scholar Helio Fred Garcia published “The Agony of Decision: Mental Readiness and Leadership in a Crisis” back in 2017, he had no way of knowing that a pandemic would break out just three years later. Now, his book about how to make tough calls under pressure is more relevant than ever for entrepreneurs. “The Agony of Decision” teaches that when your company is on the line, it’s quick thinking — more than smooth communication, effective execution, or even expertise — that can save it. The book offers a framework to guide you through the decision-making process, helping you identify and weigh each outcome, then choose the right one. Answer that first big question, Garcia teaches, and the rest of the tumblers will click into place, allowing you to lead your company forward. To prove it, he weaves his personal experiences and decision-making scaffolding with notable stories of past business failures and successes. As one Amazon reviewer writes, “Helio Fred Garcia provides a thorough discussion of the do’s and don’ts of crisis response with both current and historical events (remember Exxon Valdez or Tylenol?) that clearly

With more than 30 years of experience mentoring massive international companies and nurturing business leaders at top American universities under his belt, Garcia is the perfect

person to give voice to these tough lessons. His prose is self-assured, knowledgeable, and easy to read, which makes “The Agony of Decision” a surprisingly comforting book for an entrepreneur going through hardship. There’s a reason BookAuthority named it one of their best crisis management books of all time! In the last few months, the coronavirus has proven to be the ultimate test of crisis management. If you’re in the process of figuring out how to lead your business effectively through the turbulence and could use a decision-making toolkit to help you when the phone rings with bad news, “The Agony of Decision” might be your ideal summer read.

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