By Kirt Walker, Chief Executive Officer
Educating, Monitoring, Preparing: Nationwide Actively Plans for Coronavirus Impact
At Nationwide, we’re prudently managing impacts of the COVID-19 situation by implementing a number of steps to ensure we deliver on our mission to protect people, businesses and futures with extraordinary care.
We are a strong and stable company, but most of all we are a company with a heart for our members and each other. These are unusual and difficult times, and Nationwide is working to ensure the safety of our associates while maintaining our ability to deliver on our promise to our members.
This includes educating our associates about coronavirus, activating our contingency plans and communicating transparently with our members and other stakeholders. We’re also actively monitoring the impact on the markets so we can provide education to help our partners navigate this environment with their clients.
Taking care of our associates
First and foremost, we want our associates to be safe. We care about our people. We rely on them to deliver protection for our members and partners. That’s why we are taking appropriate actions to protect their health and well-being.
Nationwide is in the business of managing risk, and, although these are unprecedented times, we have planned and prepared for this type of scenario. We stand ready to maintain business operations and serve the need of our customers and partners across the country.
In mid-March, we successfully completed its transition to 100% work from home, except for a small fraction of our associates who are in mission-critical roles to maintain our operations and need to be in the office. We’re appreciative of the public officials’ acknowledgment of the need for these mission-critical associates to be in the office. We will continue to employ all precautions to protect the health and well-being of all of our associates.
During this time, we’ve proven that Nationwide’s systems and infrastructure can manage the ups and downs of a volatile market, or a surge in call volume or systems traffic when customers seek additional service. Because of prudent preparation, we’re confident in our ability to serve our members with extraordinary care – from the office and our homes. We’re so confident, that we’ve made the decision to permanently transition to a hybrid operating model that comprises working-from-office in four main corporate campuses and working-from-home in most other locations.
Our goal will continue to be focused on flattening the curve of coronavirus cases in our communities by each of us staying home when we are ill, practicing social distancing, avoiding crowds, washing our hands and providing sanitizing supplies, taking the temperature of essential employees at work or assuring that they do so prior to coming to work, and cleaning and disinfecting workspaces daily.
We remain committed to playing our role in fighting the spread of the virus.
Customer service & business continuity
We know many customers are currently experiencing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. To get relief in the hands of our customers quickly and simply, we are offering a one-time premium refund of $50 per policy for personal auto policies active as of March 31, 2020. The premium refund and timing are subject to individual state regulatory approval.
As the potential for higher call volume increases, we are encouraging customers to take advantage of our self-service options or request an automated call-back, where we’ll hold an individual’s place in line and call them back when they choose.
We are prepared to handle customer hardship requests for those who have been impacted by the coronavirus. We are also monitoring state and federal regulatory updates that may provide additional flexibility to assist customers.
Our Claims teams are ready to serve our customers, and we’re implementing procedures to keep both customers and associates safe.
For instance, we’ve expanded our ability to handle and settle claims virtually. And when a physical inspection is required, we’re taking appropriate measures to ensure the safety of our associates and customers.
Thanks to our investment in self-service capabilities over the past few years, we’re able to direct our members and partners to simple ways they can connect with us 24/7 online, through our mobile app and by text.
Working with our partners
As we keep a close watch on market conditions, we will continue to provide resources to help our distribution partners navigate this environment with their clients. Nationwide’s Advisor Advocate blog and Nationwide Market Insights provide the latest insights on market coverage from Nationwide.
At the same time, we’re also proactively reaching out to advisors with tools to assist them in having conversations with their clients.
Supporting the communities where we live and work
To provide support for our communities, the Nationwide Foundation is making $5 million in contributions to local and national charities to support pandemic response efforts.
As communities experience impacts related to the pandemic, many non-profit organizations stand on the front lines, providing basic necessities, wellness services and support to those in need. Finances, staffs, programs and resources are being stretched as these non-profits not only serve their communities but feel the impact themselves. During these challenging times, we each have a responsibility, when we can, to lift those around us.
A nonprofit, private foundation to which Nationwide companies are donors, the Nationwide Foundation approved $1 million in national response grants each to the American Red Cross, Feeding America and the United Way. The Foundation also approved up to $2 million in donation grants to be distributed in communities where Nationwide companies operate.
Strong and stable
Nationwide is a strong and stable company. We have a strong balance sheet and a long history of maintaining a diversified product and investment portfolio governed by a very sound and disciplined investment policy.
As a mutual, we can take a long-term view, and we are well capitalized to keep our promises to policyholders.
We have experience in challenging markets. During the 2008 financial crisis we didn’t take federal assistance, and we came out of the recession stronger than ever.
Nationwide will continue to closely monitor the situation and strive to do all we can to minimize disruption and deliver the protection and service our customers and partners expect.