Well placed to
all sorts of storms
More than three months after Bermuda went into lockdown, as the government sought to contain the spread of COVID-19, the pandemic is still casting a long shadow over the global economy. But the re/insurance industry has been relatively well placed to weather the storm: unlike in many other sectors—especially tourism and retail, both so crucial to Bermuda’s economy—re/insurance workers can be very efficient working from home, and have proved that in recent months.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, life has gone on. Bermuda has been an excellent case study in crisis management, having successfully contained the spread of the virus, keeping the number of cases, and especially fatalities, impressively low. As the virus continues to spread alarmingly in the US Bermuda had, at the time of writing, only four known active cases. Re/insurance workers, like many others, have become experts in using the multitude of videoconferencing apps—Zoom, Teams, Hangouts and Skype—which have become indispensable. These apps have created links between people who formerly shared an office space, but are now at home, scattered around different parts of the Island and beyond.
Many have allegedly become accustomed to working in their lounge pants, tracksuits or other attire that’s more comfortable than would have been possible before April—with the option of something more formal on the top half of the body on the rare occasion that it is required.
Bermuda was already a relatively laid-back place; COVID-19 has made it even less formal. For all the challenges the situation has presented, it has also made people more understanding, and more tolerant, as people try their best to satisfy the competing requirements of work and home-schooling.
“Life is slowly getting back to normal.”
Life is slowly getting back to normal, as shops reopen and people start to socialise again. Executives are wrestling with the questions of when and how to get employees back into their offices.
It is clear that things will never go back to exactly how they were before lockdown—in Bermuda or anywhere else—but it is not yet obvious what the “new normal” will look like. The summer months are always relatively quiet so, barring a second wave of infections that sets everything back, things may start to look a little clearer in September.
In the meantime, the business of re/insurance keeps doing what it has always done. Bermuda’s insurance-linked securities market is as strong as ever, with the Bermuda Stock Exchange reporting a record number of listings. Prices have also picked back up after getting caught up in the broader market rout in March.
Re/insurers have gradually turned their thoughts back to some of their strategic priorities from before the pandemic hit: how to attract a new cohort of young employees to the re/insurance industry, to replace the retiring baby-boomer generation; how to position themselves in a world that is desperate to reduce its reliance on carbon; where to invest their technology budgets to get the biggest bang for their buck in terms of increasing efficiency and improving customer satisfaction; and how to promote greater diversification among their workforces, especially at the most senior levels.
The latter two of these questions are dealt with in depth in the pages that follow. Enjoy your reading.
Solomon Teague, editor
Wave image: Shutterstock.com / Petr Kratochvil
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