The Caribbean’s biggest insurance provider’s employees may be working from home well into 2021, as it expects COVID-19 to affect the way it does business for at least another year or longer, a senior executive has told clients.
Ravi Rambarran, Sagicor Financial’s group chief operating officer told a virtual town hall meeting yesterday that until an effective vaccine is found and widely available, which could yet be for another year, the company was prepared to continue its operations from the homes of its thousands across the region.
Acknowledging that there had been some disruptions in service due to the shift, Rambarran explained that about half of Sagicor’s employees were working from home even before the pandemic had reached the region.
He told the town hall: “We had been monitoring this situation since it occurred in Wuhan, China and long before the lockdowns occurred, we had about 100 per cent of employees working from home. So, we have tried to have a seamless transition to working from home.
“Sagicor has made some significant progress towards operating on a long term basis, on a work-from-home basis, in a digitisation space and we are constantly seeking to improve because we recognise that at least until 2021, until a vaccine is created, this is where we will be.”
Given the dramatic impact COVID-19 is having on economies and companies, the Sagicor executive called on clients to work with the insurer as it moved most operations online.
He said while many clients held bank and credit union accounts, they were still insisting on using cash and cheques for the insurance giant.
Rambarran said: “We are asking you to please work with us because we don’t wish to endanger you, and we know that you wouldn’t wish to endanger us by breaking the rules of social distancing. My life depends upon you, your life depends upon me. So work with us in having electronic payments on the premium and on the claim side.”
He said the teams at Sagicor are doing their best “to be part of the solution and to reduce the stress” on clients and employees.
He said: “We recognise that every morning when you get up and every night when you go to sleep, there is a barrage of bad news and so we are not here to provide bad news but to help you.
Rambarran said Sagicor is offering clients payment deferrals for loans as well as commercial and residential mortgages, while health insurance clients are allowed to claim up to three months’ supply of pharmaceutical drugs.