Sterling Seacrest: The New Normal

Nick Puhala

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

Now that the virus is here and has disrupted our businesses, the question on everyone’s mind should be what are our next steps? It is a time to be forward thinking. As business leaders, we have an opportunity to think ahead and create an environment for our team where our business and employees are protected. 

From a risk management perspective, below are some key points on how you can proactively assess your business exposure and risk: 

  1. Evaluate and adjust your current exposure base. 

Given that insurance premiums are predicated on exposures, now is the time to evaluate whether your exposure base has significantly changed as a result of COVID-19. Your exposure could go both up and down.  Insurance contracts are typically 12-month contracts and most likely your current sales and payroll could be adjusted based on the results of your business decisions for COVID-19.  If payroll and/or revenues are down, reporting the decrease is a way to reduce insurance expense and create cash flow. If exposures are up, consider adjusting mid-term to avoid an unexpected significant audit at the end of the policy period. Similarly, if you operate a large vehicle fleet which has been placed out of service due to COVID-19, request a premium holiday for the time frame in which the vehicles were sidelined. 

  1. Ensure any new operations are properly covered. 

If you have decided to keep your business fully operating at this time, a few key questions to ask yourself might include – have you changed your operations as a result of COVID-19? If you are a restaurant, are you delivering food and alcohol rather than fully operating your business on-site? Are you a general manufacturer that has now changed production to focus on medical equipment? Are you a hotel now operating as a hospital?  Now is a critical time to make sure that your insurance program matches up and provides adequate cover for the change in your business operation. 

  1. Evaluate the risks and opportunities in a new “work from home” environment.

Now that we have officially been instructed to shelter in place, have you made sure that your insurance program matches up with the risk associated with a work from home workforce? 

Take the time to evaluate everyone’s work from home setup. It’s also critical to establish home office guidelines for remote workers such as an ergonomically correct desk set up with a computer and printer. Employers should also consider, where permitted by law, periodic home office checks to ensure telecommuters’ home offices are safe, potential hazards are identified, and any other issues of concern to prevent potential accidents or injuries from occurring. 

Another item to note in regard to working from home is the threat of cybersecurity. As organizations rush to shift their businesses, cybercriminals are ramping up their tactics to take advantage of those who may have inadequate or naive security postures. Given the challenges in securing work, this represents an attractive opportunity for those criminals. Be sure you have protected your technical infrastructure and have proper risk transfer in place.

Now is a critical time in our world as business and community leaders. Taking the time to access your risk and exposure, in addition to making decisions that will protect your business and employees, is imperative. Our new normal is quickly evolving and ever-changing. It is our responsibility to be proactive and protect our businesses and team members. 

Nick Puhala is a Partner at Sterling Seacrest Partners. He can be reached at 912.988.5155 or [email protected].