Deserted school playgrounds, empty inner cities, closed shops and millions of people engaged in mobile working from their home office instead of being at work. This is the countenance of lockdown in many countries of the world with the aim of containing the coronavirus pandemic. The economy has taken a big hit from the pandemic and the lockdown. The impact has been so great that the global economy is probably moving towards the biggest crisis since the Second World War. For insurers like HDI, this kind of crisis really is the symbolic hour of truth. Being there for people in their hour of need.
“During these difficult times, we are committed to our mission of helping the customers. We support them at all times, and particularly in this coronavirus crisis, we are standing shoulder to shoulder with them and responding flexibly to their individual needs,” said Dr Christoph Wetzel, Member of the Management Board of HDI Deutschland AG responsible for the Property/Liability/Casualty/Motor Division. For example, HDI clarified the position with business closure insurance at an early stage and has stated that its customers would also have insurance cover if their businesses were closed as a result of a government order due to the coronavirus. The settlement of numerous claims, including many restaurants and bars, is proceeding at pace. In the month of March alone, HDI insurers received more than 1,300 coronavirus-related claims arising from business closures in an environment that was developing extremely dynamically.
The uncertainty in these times of the coronavirus is resulting in customers having greater need for advice. An offering already provided by HDI insurers in Austria is experiencing a lot more demand in the coronavirus crisis. “Our lawyer’s phone is getting many more calls owing to the coronavirus crisis,” said Thomas Lackner, Member of the Management Board of HDI Versicherung AG. He went on to say that companies had a large number of questions about issues relating to the coronavirus and how to manage the future. There is a similar situation for example in France and the Netherlands, where engineers at the respective HDI Global branch offices are providing their corporate customers with specific advice about the challenges caused by the coronavirus.
Lots of private individuals are also suffering financially as a result of the lockdown and the economic crisis – some are indeed incurring drastic financial impacts. HDI Lebensversicherung AG in Germany is helping its customers by giving them an interest-free payment holiday for insurance premiums in the emergency without having to go through tedious bureaucratic formalities. “It’s easier to get over crises together than alone. That’s why we are giving all our customers a helping hand if they have got into difficulties as a result of the coronavirus crisis,” commented Patrick Dahmen, Chairman of the Management Board of HDI Lebensversicherung AG. CiV Life in Russia and Magyar Posta Biztosító in Hungary are taking similar action by giving customers a payment holiday if they have got into financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus crisis. TU Europa in Poland is willing to help in cases where diseases related to the pandemic or epidemic are actually excluded from cover. In common with other Polish travel insurers, the company expressed its willingness to review the cover also in the case of coronavirus infections and give assistance on an individual level.
An interactive world map shows where companies in the Talanx Group around the world have currently launched campaigns to support people in this difficult time. To learn more about the individual actions, simply click on the following link and then on the points in the respective countries.
Furthermore, HDI is providing concrete support for sectors which are key players at this time, for example doctors. In light of the rapid spread of the coronavirus, many retired doctors have declared their willingness to provide support, for example as locums in medical practices, as advisers for patients or as a help in fever centers. HDI Versicherung in Germany therefore expanded the benefits for the doctors who have taken out professional liability insurance with them. If a retiree, who is insured with the so-called residual medical risk at HDI, works outpatient or stationary as a support, he enjoys the full coverage even without adjusting his professional liability insurance coverage. The Group is also supporting the medical sector in other countries at a local level. Insurance solutions provided by the HDI Global branch office in Spain – in this case Clinical Trial – are currently enabling a clinical trial to go forward so that clinical tests can be carried out on artificial ventilators. “In the coronavirus crisis, this is not simply a good deed with a view to customers and brokers, it is also an excellent example of our social contribution during these troubled times of crisis,” commented Juan Aznar, Managing Director of HDI Global in Spain. HDI Global is also helping to battle the coronavirus via the insurance of clinical trials in other markets, for example in Italy, Canada and France.
HDI Seguros in Brazil is demonstrating diverse social commitment extending beyond insurance services. For example, the company has donated hundreds of surgical face masks to a hospital in São Paulo. In addition, HDI Seguros has joined a group of companies that are donating money to a public hospital so that additional capacities can be created there to treat Covid-19 patients. HDI Seguros in Mexico is also providing assistance with donations – the insurer is making payments for every policy sold in April to the organisation “Fondo para la paz”, which supports indigenous communities at risk from poverty. “We were very keen to provide support particularly for rural areas where medical provision is frequently not adequate owing to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Juan Ignacio González, General Director of HDI Seguros in Mexico. In the end, the donation amounted to around 90,000 euros.
“Solidarity and social responsibility are crucial in situations like this,” pointed out Jarosław Parkot, Chief Executive Officer of Warta. The Polish insurance company is celebrating its centenary this year. Warta was not able to have a big celebration due to the coronavirus – and instead is using the budget for the planned promotional campaign in celebration of the 100th anniversary to finance a donation. This money benefits hospitals and local organisations directly so as to provide help where it’s most urgently needed. HDI Sigorta in Turkey and HDI Assicurazioni in Italy are also supporting the battle against the coronavirus with donations of money. For example, in Italy the money goes directly to a Centre for Research on Infectious Diseases. Both companies responded quickly in favour of their customers by recognising the coronavirus pandemic in health insurance, even though treatments in conjunction with epidemics were previously not covered under private health insurance and supplementary health insurance.
Employees working in offices in the Netherlands and France are provided with fresh fruit under normal circumstances. “We considered what we should do now in a situation where most colleagues are working in a home office. And it quickly emerged that we wouldn’t cancel the fruit deliveries but instead have them delivered to a relief organisation, which cares for homeless and vulnerable people,” said Florence Louppe, Managing Director of HDI Global SE in France. In the Netherlands, fruit is now being given to a hospital – as a token of appreciation for the doctors and care workers there as they battle against Covid-19.
However, this massive commitment in these challenging times is only successful because the members of staff are also supporting each other. The culture of togetherness already starts in the company itself. And while physical distancing is the order of the day at the moment, colleagues in the Group are actually coming even closer together metaphorically. “At this time, I’m experiencing a lot of ‘together’ and ‘take care’ in our company. I think it’s great to see how our Purpose is bringing us even closer together,” wrote Talanx CEO Torsten Leue in his staff blog.
There are lots of examples of this. Switzerland is a case in point. The Swiss branch office of HDI Global SE has agreed with the lunch partner who generally supplies food to the offices that they will continue delivering freshly cooked food to employees working at home. Colleagues in the Group are also providing a lot of support for families with children. Schools and nurseries have been closed in many countries and children consequently have to be looked after at home. Employees at the HDI Global branch offices in Spain and Belgium have worked out tasks to keep the children of colleagues occupied in an entertaining way. A host of different activities range from drawing a superhero battling the coronavirus to the idea of planting a lentil for each member of the family and keeping a record of the growth. “The response is fantastic – and in this way we have been able to underpin the ‘together’ in the HDI Group,” commented Jose Antonio Sauco, Sales Manager of HDI Global in Spain.
Another example of togetherness is in Germany, where lots of employees have voluntarily donated their overtime to parents who are having huge challenges in combining childcare and work. Furthermore, the employer is also playing its role by continuously topping up this pool of time credits so that each employee can take up the offer of “care time”. Employees in Germany are also taking part in an internal “mask challenge” by making fabric masks for themselves, for colleagues and for care organisations. Italian insurer HDI Assicurazioni has set up a psychological support service for employees in the crisis period to complement the company healthcare provision that already exists. “Closeness to our colleagues is a top priority for us. Services like these and others that we have put in place for our colleagues have been carefully designed to give them a genuine sense of togetherness during these days when we have to remain physically distanced,” said Maria Sciarra, Personnel Manager of HDI Assicurazioni.