Oct 2020

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Standing together

Source: Middle East Insurance Review | Aug 2020

With everyone working even harder now, relationships have strengthened further during this pandemic.
Mojgan Khoshabi, Regional Managing Director, MENA, Chubb
The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has been a challenge for everyone in the (re)insurance industry and it is one I am proud to say we have risen to at Chubb.
With our entire team in the Middle East switching to remote working, we had to adapt quickly and effectively. Our aim was to ensure we could operate in such a way that brokers, cedants and our other business partners would scarcely notice any difference.
As a global company, we were able to monitor the situation closely from an early stage, and we learned from the experiences of our colleagues elsewhere, particularly those in the Asia-Pacific region, where the virus originated. Although the Middle East soon followed, when the pandemic started to spread here, we were prepared with a plan on how to respond.
This meant our employees were able to switch to working remotely without any delays as we ensured that all appropriate technical equipment was made available to them. The response of our staff was similarly impressive, working incredibly hard and adapting to the new normal almost immediately to ensure seamless continuity of service. 
As I write this, it has been nearly four months since our MENA team started working from home. Colleagues in Asia-Pacific and parts of Europe have started to return to their offices, but we cannot do so while the pandemic shows little sign of subsiding in many parts of the Middle East. The safety and well-being of our employees and those with whom we do business is of paramount importance to us, so we will continue to adhere to local regulations, wherever we operate.
Although we have not yet decided on the exact date when we will return to our offices, we have detailed plans in place.
What have we learned from the pandemic so far?
COVID-19 will undoubtedly have a significant effect on the insurance industry. Estimates of the total claims payable around the world are still preliminary and vary considerably, but the broad consensus is that they will exceed $100bn. It is likely to be the biggest single insurance event in history.
The pandemic has shown how important it is to be flexible and agile in terms of how you operate as a business. Never before have so many people needed to adapt to new ways of living and working.
While remote working continues to be successful for us, it is important to be mindful of the impact it can have on individuals. We realise people are more willing to work longer days because they have no commute and I know of some individuals who have worked at weekends simply because they had nothing else to do. So we must be careful staff do not push themselves too hard while at home because that in itself is an unhealthy situation. We might be operating in exceptional circumstances, but everyone needs to take a break to relax and unwind.  
I am particularly aware of the difficulties faced by those living alone, unable to go out or even meet colleagues as they would otherwise do if we were working normally. I try to ring as many of them as I can each week just to talk and check they are OK. I think this is extremely important because fundamentally we are all social beings and we need interaction with each other.
From a wider business perspective, the pandemic has only served to reinforce the importance of service. In MENA, Chubb predominantly operates as a reinsurer, so this is about being there for our broker partners and cedants. We have always been close to them, but with everyone working even harder, those relationships have only strengthened further because we know they need us now perhaps more than ever before. And we will continue to be there for them when all of this is over, which it will be. One day. M 
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