A lot has been said, written and discussed about the COVID-19 pandemic. After an initial outbreak of the disease that begun in Wuhan, China in December 2019, the coronavirus has since spread to more than 213 countries and territories around the world. Sedgwick Singapore’s David Seng shares his firm’s Singapore experience.
From its initial discovery at the end of December 2019 to the 11 March 2020 declaration of the COVID-19 by the WHO as a global pandemic, the virus has now affected 4.8m people globally, with 316,000 deaths. This pandemic has since changed the way we live, work and play.
Singapore was not spared from the outbreak with the first case relating to the COVID-19 pandemic confirmed on 23 January 2020 - a Wuhan resident, who arrived in Singapore with his family on 20 January. Local transmission began to develop in February and March 2020, after the early cases were primarily imported ones.
February saw a heighten outbreaks of the COVID-19 across the city state, with many organisations putting in place their business continuity plans (BCP). Sedgwick Singapore activated its own COVID-19 BCP in early February, implementing two teams working on weekly rotations. This comprises half of the office workforce working from home (WFH) while the other half of the workforce continued as usual.
The ethos of Sedgwick is ‘caring counts’. The safety and well-being of our colleagues feature first and foremost in everything that we do as well as minimising any service disruptions to our clients.
We adopted various safety measures such as safe distancing at the workplace, safe hygiene practices such as the provision of personal protection equipment (PPE) - face masks, gloves and hand sanitisers for all colleagues whist at work in the office and/or when undertaking loss investigations/surveys on site.
Transition to WFH was seamless due to our advance technology which enable secure VPN access to our company network. We utilised Webex Video teleconference software to enable frequent and constant corroboration between colleagues and clients. Our colleagues were able to work securely from home delivering the same world class claims services that we are renowned for.
After the declaration of the global pandemic, we re-visited our BCP and split the team further into three, so that 70% of our colleagues were WFH.
Introduction of lockdown
There was a spike of new cases between late March and April, due to clusters detected at multiple dormitories for migrant workers. On 3 April, the Singapore goverment’s multi-ministry taskforce introduced ‘circuit breaker’ measures which dictated suspension of all business activities, except essential services from 7 April to 4 May.
Sedgwick Singapore was initially recognised as one of the exempted services, hence we continued to operate and undertake surveys, loss adjusting and claims management throughout Singapore.
On 21 April, the Singapore government further tightened some of the measures. Previous approved exemptions for many firms were rescinded. The loss-adjusting fraternity was not spared, and on 25 April all major loss-adjusting firms received notifications to suspend all on-site activities at all premises. The circuit breaker period was extended to 1 June.
In line with Sedgwick’s global practice, our Singapore office immediately adopted 100% WFH arrangements. Once again, our topmost priorities were the health and safety of our colleagues, and the needs of our clients, business partners and their customers.
To minimise service disruptions, continue to deliver our claims services and reduce the risk of our colleagues and clients being exposed to the COVID-19 virus, we introduced the use of Sedgwick’s Digital Claims Services using Clarity Connect to our Singapore and Asian clients.
This digital video technology enables our loss adjusters to reach out, connect with our clients and policyholders to ensure safe and seamless claims servicing during the circuit breaker period. Where physical site visit and face-to-face meeting is not required or appropriate, our increased use of virtual visits was just one way we are achieving this to meet service expectations of our clients.
We replaced as many traditional physical on-site adjuster visits as we can with a remote field adjuster alternative that, crucially, still involves the technical expertise from our experienced colleagues. Despite our colleagues having to WFH, we remain 100% operational throughout the circuit breaker period.
Features of Sedgwick’s Digital Claims Services using Clarity Connect
How does it work?
- Our adjuster decides if the loss is suitable for video streaming
- We contact the claimant and if they agree, the loss adjuster sends an SMS or email with a link to the system
- The link allows the customer to download an app on their own phone, tablet or device
- Once downloaded, the app will connect automatically to a video call
- Our adjuster can use one of a number of features to get the information they need to assess the loss
- The client can delete the app once the online visit is finished
Why does it work?
- Geolocation is an option to verify that the property is the insured’s
- The client can use the zoom button and the device’s light for the best image quality
- Pictures and videos are securely stored in the cloud and it’s compliant with PDPA
- Screen sharing is an option to allow interaction with the insured
- Our adjusters can draw over a picture to help describe and comment on the damage
- We can add more participants to allow more experts to contribute in the assessment
- The same experienced loss adjuster is on the case to provide accurate and effective services.
There have been many success stories of Sedgwick Singapore and many Sedgwick offices across Asia using Clarity Connect video technology to carry out remote surveys and investigation works across various classes of insurance claims, from property and casualty to marine-related claims.
Encouraging feedbacks were received from policyholders and clients on how surprised they were with the promptness in attending to their claims despite the current circuit breaker period, the ability to maintain safe and social distancing measure as advocated by the Singapore government and most importantly the issue of immediate site attendance, address pertinent issues and offer guidance to stakeholders involved in their time of need.
Clarity Connect was also equally useful as a ‘first touch’ contact when communicating with parties in a major and /or complex loss situation, where multiple and time-consuming arrangements are required before a visit proper can be made.
Glimpse of the future
Whilst the world grapples with different COVID-19 situations, the Singapore government is looking to ease the various circuit breaker measures after 1 June. The road to full recovery, be it economically or achieving societal normalcy, will be long and hard. We should be under no illusion that life will return to what it was or that all will be well soon. This pandemic will not go away overnight, and safe distancing, safe hygiene practices and working from home will be here to stay.
WFH and using Sedgwick’s proprietary Digital Claims Services using Clarity Connect has changed the way we work. The combination of WFH and the use of video surveys will inevitably be the standard in the future.
To quote Singapore’s prime minister, “COVID-19 is this generation’s challenge”. At Sedgwick, we are committed to working closely with all stakeholders on the challenges affecting them and their teams. We will continue to do what we do best - and that is taking care of people. Taking care of ourselves. Taking care of each other. Taking care of our clients. A
Mr David Seng is Sedgwick Singapore’s CEO.