Rather Than Gamble, ITC Shifts From Vegas to the Digital World; Retailers Pile on to Mask Mandates After Months on Sidelines; Insurance Agent, Loan Officer, and Wealth Manager Email Addresses

Insurance News for 7/17/2020

Rather Than Gamble, ITC Shifts From Vegas to the Digital World

A surge in COVID-19 cases is forcing InsureTech Connect – one of the world’s largest insurance technology conferences – to go fully digital for its annual fall gathering.

ITC has scheduled ITC World Tour, a virtual world tour with various events, from Sept. 1 to Sept. 18. A main virtual conference event dubbed ITC Global will run from Sept. 21 to Sept. 23, designed to be a “24 Hours a Day Immersive Experience,” according to the group’s website. It will replace the annual in-person gathering in Las Vegas.

“If the world cannot come to Las Vegas, we will bring ITC to the world,” ITC CEO and co-founder Jay Weintraub told Carrier Management via email.

The annual event attracted 7,000 people from around the world at its 2019 annual conference in Las Vegas. But plans for a follow-up in-person event in fall 2020 quickly became in question when the coronavirus pandemic began to spread earlier this spring. In response, Weintraub and his team began to plan contingencies, including some sort of digital/in-person hybrid gathering that would still include some sort of in-person event in Las Vegas.

COVID-19 threw a wrench into that planning process, however, when cases began to surge in Las Vegas and in other locations around the country over the last month. COVID-19 cases in Clark County, Nevada, which includes metro Las Vegas, had flattened out before the region began reopening more than a month ago. They are now surging again in Nevada and other locations around the country, making travel difficult. Clark County reported 26,926 COVID-19 cases as of July 16, of which 6,077 were reported within the last 7 days. There have now been 2,383 hospitalizations and 507 deaths, according to state health information.

Weintraub said safety concerns drove the decision to go fully digital.

“The recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in the United States, as well as global and local government travel restrictions, has meant the conditions by which we would feel comfortable proceeding with an in-person event simply cannot be met,” Weintraub said.
“And yet, innovation has not slowed during COVID-19 nor has the need to discover, learn and connect.”

With that in mind, ITC is now devoting its energies to producing virtual events in September that can match the impact its in-person annual conference has had.

Weintraub described the combined events as

“September to Remember – a month long, all-digital celebration of insurance innovation.”

Weintraub said the ITC World Tour will include more than 30 virtual stops in three weeks in September, giving participants the opportunity to learn about new InsurTechs, hear from local experts and discover various local InsurTech clusters around the world. He said points of focus will include locations in Australia, Africa, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Israel, Indonesia, Japan and the United States.

ITC Global will cover the time frame that would have included the Las Vegas gathering, Weintraub said.

With an eye on attracting 8,000 people this year, ITC Global will last two and a half days for virtual networking and presentations/panels “from over 200 of the best and brightest thought leaders,” Weintraub said. He added the virtual event will include some global insurance industry leaders as well, with speakers such as Christian Mumenthaler, Group CEO of Swiss Re, Charles Lowrey, Chairman & CEO of Prudential, and Jessica Tan, Co-CEO of Ping An Group.

Source: Carrier Management – 7/17/20 Author: Mark Hollmer

Retailers Pile on to Mask Mandates After Months on Sidelines

The chief executives of major U.S. retailers have been quick to voice concern about the safety of employees since the coronavirus struck. Four months into America’s battle with Covid-19, though, just a few national chains required customers to wear masks when this week began.

With more workers getting sick and dying as the pandemic escalates across the country, that’s swiftly changed. Costco was the only U.S. retailer among the 10 largest to have an official requirement, but Best Buy, Walmart and Kroger have joined in the past few days. Kohl’s and CVS have also joined in.

The moves came after Walmart Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said earlier in the week that the company followed local rules on mask requirements, which left about a third of its 5,350 U.S. stores without a policy.

“It’s on our minds,” McMillon said Monday.
“We’ve done a lot of different things, like reduce our store hours for extra cleaning. We limit how many customers can come into a store. There are markings on the floor, showing how far it is to be separate from someone six feet.”

The push to require masks is “an important step,” said Marc Perrone, president of UFCW International, which represents 1.3 million workers in supermarkets and food processing plants. But he said enforcement of mask policies must be done “by trained professionals, not retail workers already stretched thin.”

Most of the retail industry’s approach has been similar, and similarly ineffectual, labor unions and worker advocates say. Signs pop up asking customers to wear masks, but enforcement has been lax or non-existent. Many chains have justified the lighter touch for the sake of worker’s safety because they don’t want employees to get involved in situations that could turn violent.

Home Depot Inc., for example, doesn’t require customers to wear masks before entering a location, but added signs to stores last week and now makes regular public-address announcements reminding shoppers to wear them.

“We haven’t required our associates to deny entry, because it’s simply too dangerous to put them in that position,” said Sara Gorman, a spokeswoman for Home Depot.

These companies do have a valid point, given that there have already been several incidents. At a Costco in Florida, a customer was recorded angrily yelling after being asked to don a mask. In Michigan, an unmasked customer stabbed an elderly man in a Quality Dairy store after he was refused service. A 7-Eleven shopper without a mask spit on the counter when she was refused service at a store in Texas.

This leaves the chains that have instituted policies in a difficult spot. Stronger enforcement could be volatile because mask-wearing has morphed from a public-health directive into a partisan issue. President Donald Trump refused to wear one, until recently. And conservative media pushed the narrative that the coverings are unnecessary and encroach on personal freedom, as part of a larger critique that the response to the virus is overblown.

Health Ambassadors

Stricter enforcement of mask requirements will upset some customers but failing to do so could imperil more employees, thus creating greater risk of legal action by sickened workers.

Even before Wednesday’s announcement, Walmart created “health ambassador” positions to stand outside stores in states where mask-wearing is required and gently remind people to do so. There has been lots of chatter on online message boards frequented by Walmart workers about how difficult the job is, because customers will curse them out, or worse. If a shopper refuses to wear a mask, the store’s management has to decide whether to escalate.

“You’ll like this job, if you like getting insulted and threatened,” said one commenter on a Walmart employee Reddit page.
“Frankly, I’m on edge whenever I’m standing out there telling people to please wear their masks.”

But Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, has a team of about 20 researchers visiting stores around the country, and they’ve seen an increase in mask-wearing over the past month. A rough estimate is that adherence rose from 75% of shoppers wearing one to about 95%.

Policy Change

Until Wednesday, Kohl’s hadn’t seen the need to issue a mask requirement. Like most of the retail industry, the chain had previously put in social-distancing measures, including increasing space and limiting customer traffic.

“We get associate feedback, customer feedback, and, to date, the feedback has been really positive,” CEO Michelle Gass said in an interview June 22.
“So we have not seen the need to require customers to wear masks.”

Moves like Walmart’s will push additional chains to require masks and help normalize face coverings even more across retail, Johnson said. He sees them following a similar adoption pattern to social-distancing measures, like spacing tape, that are now a routine part of shopping.

“The mask thing has gone so mainstream that I don’t think it’s going to be that big of a deal,” Johnson said.
“There will always be someone who has a heart attack over something, but we’re seeing more compliance.”

–With assistance from Gerald Porter Jr., Angelica LaVito, Nic Querolo and Jordyn Holman.

 Source: Claims Journal – 7/16/20 Authors: Matt Townsend and Matthew Boyle

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