Why Insurers are Investing in Drone Technology.

Accelerated drone usage by the insurance industry is another of the ripple effects that will come as a result of change thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last few months have changed the way people and businesses interact due to physical distancing requirements, thus making contactless drone inspections vital to the way insurers do business, says a report from GlobalData, a data and analytics company.

Its Quarterly Tech Trends survey found that 35% of firms in the insurance industry said they were investing in drone technology — even 68% of them said drones would have a disruptive influence in the property and casualty space, as well as agricultural.

The usage of drones isn’t new to the insurance industry. Adjusters have been using drones to get to areas that people can’t — or get to them soon enough, like a flooded area. Earlier this year, Jeff Sutton, senior vice president of business development and marketing with Claimspro in Toronto, told Canadian Underwriter that taking advantage of drone technology was something that has picked up in the last year to year-and-a-half. GlobalData’s report suggested that adoption will increase more rapidly.

“Drones are particularly useful for inspecting large-scale and difficult-to-reach infrastructure as well as vast areas of land,” said Beatriz Benito, senior insurance analyst at GlobalData. “The value proposition of drones had centred on the speed and safety they offer in loss adjustments, which ultimately resulted in operational efficiencies and cost savings.”

But in a novel coronavirus world, the benefits of using drones is being highlighted even further. Physical assessments are hampered by social distancing and isolation guidelines. “Keeping human contact to a minimum has not only become important, but sometimes strictly necessary because of lockdowns or parties — loss adjusters, claims handlers or policyholders — self-isolating,” GlobalData’s report said. “This means that walking through a damaged property with a policyholder may no longer be feasible.”

Throw in a natural disaster on top of a pandemic, expect drone technology to be of greater import. “Climate change has worsened extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, floods and tsunamis as well as non-weather natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanoes, and wildfires,” the report said. “After a disaster during the lockdowns, home insurers can use drones to inspect properties while still social distancing.”

Using drones is also an avenue to save carriers money, Benito observed, which is a significant consideration due the last few months. Customers will see benefits as well in their claims journey.

“At a time when many insurers have been badly hit by the pandemic, technology that has the potential to bring operational savings is likely to lure the industry,” she said. “On the other hand, customers will benefit from quicker claims processing and faster payouts.”

Feature image by iStock.com/scanrail

Source: https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/technology/why-insurers-are-investing-more-in-this-technology-1004178803/

Windsor company to produce two million face shields

Medical face shields produced at Western University. Photo courtesy of mediarelations.uwo.ca

A Windsor company has risen to the challenge issued by the federal government to help fight COVID-19.

Windsor Mold Group, a locally-based consortium with offices in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, has signed a contract with the federal government to produce two million face shields for health care workers who are in the trenches of the war against the novel coronavirus.

According to a release from Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk, the technology employed by Windsor Mold Group helped them secure a contract ahead of thousands of other suitors.

“It is inspiring to see a local company like Windsor Mold Group step up to produce equipment that will protect our frontline healthcare workers in our community and across Canada,” said Kusmierczyk. “To adapt their manufacturing operations and get the proper approvals so quickly is a challenging task, and it speaks to the tremendous talent and determination of our manufacturing sector across Windsor and Essex County.”

Windsor Mold Group will also produce thousands of headbands for health care workers.

According to the release, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) received over 30,000 proposals from Canadian businesses and manufacturers looking to help in the battle against COVID-19. PSPC is working in cooperation with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

Souce: https://blackburnnews.com/windsor/windsor-news/2020/05/05/windsor-company-produce-two-million-face-shields/?fbclid=IwAR04kFCXjXrlzMqTcaAGxZ85x9sPO4qkb1z07xNy_DA5WBMx5O1j8w2zmxQ

Eight essential tips for working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

TORONTO — In an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, government and health officials across the country have asked Canadians to stay indoors and practise physical distancing.

These measures have led many companies to implement measures forcing their employees to work from home. For many, this is unfamiliar territory that comes with its own set of challenges. Overcoming them will require a new way of working and even communicating with others, as well as a bit of help. Here are some expert tips on how to master the art of working remotely:

HAVE A DEDICATED WORKSPACE

Start by designating a space specifically for work. While the ideal option would be an area that is physically separate from the rest of your home – such as an office or another room – this isn’t necessary, says Dominick Miserandino, CEO of Inquisitr Media.

Having operated various remote media companies over the past two decades, he insists that the perfect place to work has less to do with the physical space than it does with how you view it.

“You just need to have a place that you associate with work,” he said. “Somewhere that puts you in the right mindset.”

Anything from a small desk to the kitchen table will do, as long as it mentally prepares you to do work. Ideally, it’s also quiet and free of distractions.

Hilary Carter is the managing director of Blockchain Research Institute, an organization that studies the technology behind cryptocurrency. Having had plenty of experience with working remotely, she also suggests doing what you can to create a work environment that’s stimulating – light a candle, keep a photo of happier times nearby, and make sure there’s plenty of light. The goal is to be comfortable.

“Nobody has a roadmap to deal with this isolating environment,” she said. “Whatever it is that brings you comfort, bring that to your workspace.”

But don’t get too comfortable, warns Carter, who says to avoid working in bed.

MAKE A SCHEDULE

It’s especially important to maintain a schedule while working from home. How we structure our day is often based on having to work somewhere other than where we live, explains Scott Schieman, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto. As a result, much of this structure is lost when working from home.

“Now, it’s easier to fall away from routine,” he said. “I think the work productivity that goes with that falls away too.”

To maintain that sense of routine, Carter recommends starting and ending your workday at the same time you typically would. Sticking to the same schedule helps create a sense of normalcy and allows you to get more work done.

“Whatever it is that you do that feels normal to do, keep doing it,” she said. “If you’re trying to resort to a new routine, I think you might be adding more stress to your life than you are relieving it.”

When planning for work, Miserandino recommends organizing tasks based on what you need to accomplish by the end of each shift. Keep track of all the work you’ve done as well as what you have left to do, and try to schedule meetings for the same time each day. He insists that having a clear plan in place leads to psychological well-being.

“Having that set schedule gives your brain a chance to reset,” Miserandino said. “It gives you that feeling of control in a rather uncontrollable circumstance.”

TAKE BREAKS

When building your schedule, make sure to include breaks. Keep them short and space them out across the day.

According to Schieman, breaks should be both mental and physical, so try to spend that time away from your workspace whenever possible. He suggests making coffee, going for a walk, or tackling some quick chores instead of falling into the trap of scrolling through social media.

“It’s healthy to take some time away from sitting in the same position and looking at screens all day,” Schieman said. “Taking a break ultimately makes people feel better, and that’s what we want in this particular circumstance.”

It’s also important to remember that breaks are a normal part of the workday, adds Carter. She recommends taking breaks as you typically would; they were likely already part of your daily routine, and they help refresh the mind.

“It has the same benefit that applies in the office,” she said. “We just have to make a bit more of an effort to take breaks because we don’t have the same kind of natural opportunities as we do in the workplace.”

GET DRESSED

The question of what to wear while working from home has sparked plenty of debate online. While some suggest getting dressed as though you’re going to the office, others prefer to look a bit more casual.

For Miserandino, the answer is clear: absolutely get dressed up while working from home.

“You have to feel like you’re going to work, you have to feel that purpose,” he said.

Whether you’re dressing up, combing your hair, or brushing your teeth, Miserandino insists that getting ready as you normally would for work helps put you in the right mental state to be productive.

For Carter, it’s about following your regular work routine as much as possible. She recommends getting dressed at the same time you normally do and wearing the same clothes you world normally wear to work.

“[Getting dressed] separates your sleep state from your awake state, and helps your mind focus on the activities of the day,” she said. “Working in your jammies is not advisable.”

DON’T GET CAUGHT UP IN SETTING BOUNDARIES

For many, working at home involves being around children.

Parents have gotten creative with setting boundaries to ensure they get work done at home. But Carter recommends not getting too caught up in separating work from aspects of your personal life.

Whether it’s a young child who needs your attention or a pet that won’t stop making noise, realize that you’re going to have interruptions. While she suggests doing what you can to minimize them, there’s no need to be so hard on yourself.

“People shouldn’t sweat the stuff they can’t control,” said Carter.

Miserandino also encourages parents to be mindful of how they communicate their schedules to children. He insists that the goal shouldn’t be telling your kids when you can’t talk to them as much as telling them when you can.

“Give them something to look forward to, because kids are going through their own tough time,” he said. “It would be more effective to look forward to this than to avoid that.”

For those moments when you can’t spend time with your kids, Carter recommends reaching out to friends and family for some virtual help. Ask if they’re able to spend time with your child online to keep them occupied while you join a video conference or take a phone call.

“Parents trying to deal with young children and work at the same time are experiencing similar pressures,” she said. “No one is an island in this.”

You can also find other ways of keeping kids busy using this list of resources.

INCREASE COMMUNICATION

Communication is key in any work environment, but now that many are working from home, it’s vital, explains Miserandino. He recommends an increase in daily communication to keep your team informed of what tasks you’re working on, and to keep in touch using more than just emails – instead, try scheduling daily phone calls or video conferences.

“The goal should be to get as close to physical human contact as possible,” he said.

Carter agrees, encouraging companies to communicate with their employees via video as much as possible. This allows for the observation of facial expressions and offers a connection similar to what would exist in an office setting.

“We respond well to each other’s faces,” she said. “We want to see ourselves in the conversation.”

But no matter the tool, Schieman insists it’s important to be mindful of how we’re being perceived through our electronic devices.

“There’s a lot said through communication technology that can be misunderstood,” he said. “[The pandemic] has amplified this in a massive way.”

In any workplace, the ability to read body language and assess non-verbal cues can shape the way we provide feedback and share ideas, explains Schieman. With many companies shifting away from face-to-face interaction, it can be harder for those emotional nuances to come across. While he agrees that video conferencing is the closest thing to communicating in-person, Schieman cautions that it isn’t the same.

“I think the rapid pace of all of this has required a lot of people to adjust very quickly to a new way of communicating,” he said. “That is one of the most important things to keep in mind.”

BE RESPECTFUL

It’s especially important to be mindful of what’s happening in the world and the impact this has on the people you work with. As we cope with the effects of a global pandemic, Miserandino suggests making an effort to be more aware of new challenges faced by those around you. After all, we’re in this together.

“I’m more conscious that eventually, more people are going to have issues of loved ones having trouble or challenges in terms of getting material resources they may need,” he said. “We need to be respectful and understanding of what everyone is going through.”

Part of this mindfulness involves recognizing the toll of physical isolation on your coworkers, advises Schieman. Many are likely feeling lonely and lacking emotional support – especially those working from home for the first time, who’ve had to immediately adjust to a new work environment.

His advice? Reach out to those you work with, as well as family and friends, more often, even if it’s just to ask how they’re doing.

“Checking in on each other signals something we need right now – empathy and compassion,” said Schieman. “It’s important to make sure people feel like they matter.”

AVOID SCAMS

Working from home often means using personal devices to access company data. This presents a number of cyber security issues, according to Alexander Urbelis, founder of Blackstone Law Group.

The information security lawyer recently discovered that a group of hackers tried breaking into the World Health Organization’s online network. He explains that while these types of breaches are not new, more people are likely to be affected by them.

“Now, it’s just a difference of degree in that workforces have gone from operating 5 or 10 per cent off-premises to now having a remote workforce 100 per cent of the time,” he said.

This results in the use of more personal devices and remote endpoints, like computers, to transfer data, including highly sensitive information like financial projections, trade secrets, and business plans.

He recommends companies use more IT support services as well as cyber hygiene best practice measures like two-factor authentication (2FA) or multifactor authentication (MFA). He encourages the use of these measures for personal accounts as well, including email and social media.

“If those are hacked by the bad guys, it becomes a vector through which hackers can push malware out to you,” said Urbelis. “That can then lead them directly back into your companies.”

Other recommendations include the use of a virtual private network and ensuring that passwords are constantly changed. He advises keeping your home network password protected and upgrading the firmware on your router. Finally, beware of phishing scams. Don’t click on any unusual links or documents, and notify your employer of any suspicious activity.

“The takeaway here is to be extraordinarily skeptical of anything that pushes you to download files, or provide any banking or credit card information or any kind of login or account information,” said Urbelis. “We all have a collective and shared responsibility to utilize good cyber hygiene right now.”

Source: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/eight-essential-tips-for-working-from-home-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic-1.4874662

Ins and Outs of Travel Insurance Amid Coronavirus Outbreak.

VANCOUVER – Travellers nervous about globe-trotting during the novel coronavirus outbreak may be eligible to receive a refund for cancelling their travels, say insurance experts, but it depends on the destination, their insurance policy and other factors.

“I think in any case of sort of an epidemic like this, it’s really an evolving situation and every day is different, something new happens,” said Joan Weir, director of health and disability policy for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association. CLHIA represents 99 per cent of the country’s life and health insurance companies, according to its website.

Travel insurers watch the unfolding situation very carefully, she said, and the association is frequently checking in with all its members about what they’re experiencing.

There are now more than 31,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, according to the World Health Organization.

The bulk of these are in China, where there have also been 637 deaths. Across 24 other countries, there are 270 confirmed cases and one death. There are five confirmed cases in Canada.

The WHO declared the outbreak a global health emergency in late January.

The Canadian government issued a Level 3 advisory for China, asking Canadians to avoid non-essential travel. There is only one higher level, which advises travellers to avoid all travel.

The government recommends people avoid travelling to Hubei Province, where Wuhan city is located. The province has recorded 22,112 of China’s 31,211 coronavirus cases, according to the WHO.

As soon as the Canadian government declares a Level 3 or 4 travel advisory, a person may cancel their upcoming trip and their insurance should cover any lost expenses, said Weir.

“You’d have to submit receipts,” she said, but travellers should receive refunds for flights, hotels and other costs.

Trips booked before the government issues these advisories are often covered by travel insurance, said an emailed statement from the insurance company RSA Canada.

“Trips booked after this point are not eligible for medical coverage or trip cancellation/interruption coverage.”

Allianz Global Assistance Canada, which declined to comment due to “how quickly the current coronavirus is evolving and the changing advisories” from Canada’s government and others, posted a notice on its website to customers about the outbreak indicating booking timing mattered for coverage eligibility.

People travelling to China whose trip cancellation benefits kick in if the government issues a Level 3 advisory would be eligible to submit a claim if they purchased insurance before Jan. 29, when the government issued its advisory, according to the statement.

For those who do qualify, it doesn’t matter whether their trip is next week or in six months, said Weir.

However, the destination matters. While 24 countries have confirmed coronavirus cases, Canada’s travel advisory applies only to China. That means a person who feels uncomfortable travelling to any of the other countries won’t be able to get a refund for cancelling their trip, she said.

That is, unless they purchased what’s known as cancel-for-any-reason insurance, she said, which does exactly what the name implies.

Those who haven’t purchased any travel insurance may still be able to secure a refund, Weir noted, as many major credit cards offer some kind of coverage.

“But it depends on which credit card you have and what the benefits are,” she said. “So it’s good to know what your credit card covers for trip cancellation, for trip health, all that.”

For instant quote and purchase on travel insurance, visit www.24webquote.com

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2020.

Source: https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/claims/ins-and-outs-of-travel-insurance-amid-coronavirus-outbreak-1004173736/