TEXT EDITORIAL DEPT. THE WORLD OF MAPFRE | PHOTOGRAPHS: MAPFRE, ISTOCK
Paula Miguel (Spain); Carolina Circelli (Brazil); Amaury Nieto (Mexico); and Caitlin Creemer and Jennifer O’Meara (USA) have contributed to this report.
In Spain, heroes take care of their customers
The announcement, in March 2020, of the State of Alarm in Spain and the decision to approve the lockdown of the entire country for three months, marked the beginning of a very challenging year for all sectors of society. Throughout this time, MAPFRE continued to serve its customers, adapting to a new reality and guaranteeing the safety of its employees, providers and policyholders.
This situation confronted its inhabitants with a great challenge: adapting to the unknown. From the outset, MAPFRE began to quickly modify its protocols to maintain its customer support for urgent services, even in the most difficult situations, while at the same time taking the necessary measures to avoid contagion.
The company’s advanced digitalization and the commitment of its employees made this possible. In just a few weeks, almost 90 percent of the workforce and many collaborators transitioned to working from home, achieving the “new normal” of teleworking.
For an insurance company, ensuring customer service is not always compatible with teleworking, as certain groups have to provide their services in person, at the customer’s side, wherever they are needed. To achieve this and, at the same time, protect the health of everyone, a major effort was required to develop, within hours, new protocols that ensured safety and allowed us to continue to meet the urgent needs of our clients.
The work of MAPFRE’s suppliers has been key in this continuity of service and their contribution to the fight against the pandemic has gone even further, as more than 110 collaborators have taken part in the assembly, adaptation or expansion of field hospitals set up against the clock to provide care to the sick.
Maintaining customer service for urgent services, even in the most challenging situations
In one year, the company has performed nearly two million roadside assistance services, 567,000 of which were between March and June 2020, the strictest lockdown period in Spain. In addition, its Automobile Service Centers incorporated an ozone disinfection service to protect against COVID-19 and guarantee its customers the proper levels of safety when collecting their vehicles.Since the launch, 40,000 disinfections have been carried out. The healthcare protocol that has been applied in homes and vehicles has been extended to other areas: 350 MAPFRE buildings in Spain, including direct offices, medical centers, headquarters, and so on, have received AENOR certification as spaces where safety measures are applied.
Healthcare personnel have undoubtedly played the leading role in the fight against the pandemic. And the activities of the 15 MAPFRE Medical Centers have been fundamental: during lockdown, more than 45,000 calls were made to elderly people and other patients with a variety of pathologies for follow-up, and nearly 27,000 screening tests were carried out.
These centers faced the tremendous challenge of implementing the new services demanded by society due to the pandemic, such as respiratory physiotherapy for treating post-COVID sequelae, a new videoconferencing service (with more than 1,300 consultations carried out, mostly in psychology), and a follow-up service for close to 2,000 patients. At the same time as responding to these new needs, the centers are being reconfigured to care for patients with other types of pathologies, without putting either the medical staff or the patients themselves at risk. Undoubtedly, a formidable challenge in terms of adaptation and innovation, to which the staff has been fully committed.
Similarly, MAPFRE’s digital health app in Spain, Savia, has been playing a particularly important role, offering free services in lockdown and dealing with 315,000 consultations in one year.
As in so many countries, in Spain the company has had to face one of the most difficult times in its history. At MAPFRE, all the company’s employees have become true everyday heroes, making words like empathy, trust and dedication to service, which are part of their day-to-day lives, take on an even deeper meaning.
MAPFRE Spain; the entire workforce have become real everyday heroes and have made words such as empathy, trust and dedication to service take on a deeper meaning.
In Brazil, “hand in hand” with society
In Brazil, a year has passed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the country is certainly facing the most critical moment in its fight against the disease. As this article went to press, it had almost 14 million cases and had reached the highest peak of daily mortality, with more restrictive measures being taken across the country.
There, the pandemic has shaped a collective outlook that is unprecedented in the world, although, as is the case in physical space, it has come up against national and individual interests. In this context, large corporations have also been reviewing the role they play within their respective areas of activity (and sometimes even beyond these), by stepping in to help deal with the pandemic.
MAPFRE, out of its own sense of mutualism and protection cultivated throughout its history, also took action there, right from the moment the first cases were reported, to support its stakeholders in the country. Action for employees, promoting their safety, acceptance and trust. In addition to working from home, the more than 3,000 employees the company has in the region have access to psychological support, which is also extended to their families, and follow-up is conducted to map any COVID-19-related symptoms. For other groups, such as brokers and service providers, the company has sought to minimize the impacts of the sudden loss of financial revenue, establishing special conditions for policy renewals, advancing payments to vehicle workshops, and offering online help to update and train employees.
For customers, MAPFRE has reinforcedits digital service channels and expanded the activities covered by home insurance, benefiting individual micro-entrepreneurs who have been forced to move their work to their homes. It also offers a telemedicine service, as part of its life insurance policies, thereby ensuring safety measures and social distancing for policyholders.
For brokers and service providers, the company has tried to minimize the impacts of the sudden loss of financial income, setting special conditions for policy renewals, advancing payments to vehicle workshops and offering onlinehelp to update and train employees.
The company was one of the first in the industry in Brazil to include cover for death due to COVID-19 in its life policies and, subsequently, in life and home policies. It also set up a website, called Retorno Seguro [Safe Return], to support companies that had to reinstate face-to-face service. Through the innovation platform MAPFRE Open Innovation it began to gather proposals from startups and employees focused on small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as service providers, helping them to face the complex economic landscape brought about by the pandemic.
The fight against COVID-19 is not over yet and, for MAPFRE, a company that trusts and protects people in everything it does, focusing its efforts on its public is a matter of course. The company will stand hand in hand with society (although for the moment it can only do so metaphorically with top quality service and excellence), with the conviction that we will emerge stronger to live in a better, more reliable and safer world.
An active role in Mexico
The trend of cases in Mexico has been declining over recent months, with the most pronounced spike in incidences occurring in January of this year, but as this article goes to press, the country is experiencing a gradual fall in the number infections. However, Mexican industry is continuing to struggle to curb the effects of the coronavirus in a number of areas, primarily in the healthcare and financial sectors. In Mexico, MAPFRE made it clear from the beginning of the crisis that it wanted to act as an agent of change and provide the communities in which it operates with all its support and experience to cushion the effects of the pandemic, emphasizing its commitment to clients, agents, allies and society in general.
Among the initial actions implemented when the first outbreaks of the virus occurred in the country, the company notified all its users that the major medical expenses policy would cover its beneficiaries against the disease, which was the people’s main concern.
Along with these efforts and concerned about the company’s heart, its employees, the insurer activated the business continuity plan, with the main objective of safeguarding the welfare of each and every one of them. It immediately moved 90 percent of the workforce to the home office model, or telework, and implemented its digital procedures quickly, enabling the processors to respond to clients remotely, applying remote appraisal, compensation, and home document collection. As a result, it became one of the first companies in Mexico to join the #yomequedoencasa [I’m staying at home] initiative, promoting disease-transmission prevention.
“We know that COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in Mexico and around the world, of that there is no doubt. That is why at MAPFRE we are trying to face the pandemic in a personal way, since the people who are affected are our clients, partners and employees, part of our family and, therefore, we will do everything possible to provide them with peace of mind and security”, admitted José María Romero, CEO of MAPFRE Mexico and LATAM North.
One of the greatest concerns, in addition to the health of its employees, is linked to the impact that the contingency and social distancing measures may have on partners, allies and clients. That is why MAPFRE has implemented exceptional measures, such as offering its main stakeholders the MEDIPHONE – Telephone Medical Advice service, free of charge, to provide them with telephone assistance from physicians for any COVID-19-related consultation, 24 hours a day, every day of the week.
Also, together with the rest of the insurance industry, MAPFRE Mexico actively participated in implementing the Cobertura Solidaria de Apoyo al Sector de Salud [Solidarity Coverage in Support of the Health Sector], from the Asociación Mexicana de Instituciones de Seguros, compensating the families of public service health personnel who have unfortunately died as a result of COVID-19.
Much progress has been made to curb the pandemic and, while we wait for real and effective vaccination on a global scale, as well as a decrease in the number of cases of infection, the company continues to back these achievements in Mexico, strongly supporting society, increasing this positive trend through good practices and initiatives that benefit its customers and collaborators.
Rapid mobilization in the USA to alleviate financial burdens
By mid-March 2020, much of the U.S. was in lockdown. A year later, virus patterns were improving considerably thanks to increased immunity, with more than 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered and the vaccination rate growing at close to two million per day.
In that country, MAPFRE moved quickly to ensure the safety of its employees and, by March 17, 98 percent of its employees were working from home. Throughout this period, the company is proud to have been able to offer the same level of quality service to its customers, agents, suppliers and partners as before, with the organization as a whole adapting to new challenges in a context of constant change.
It implemented various initiatives to ease the pandemic-related financial burdens on customers, such as flexible payment options for policyholders, adapted on a case-by-case basis. It also offered free extended coverage to customers whose jobs required them to use their vehicles to make deliveries during the crisis. The insurer also extended the number of days of rental car cover and contacted policyholders to provide them with information on self-service tools available on its website or by telephone. Finally, it returned 15 percent of the premium to personal insurance policyholders in certain months through the MAPFRE Staying Home Refund program.
MAPFRE also made resources and best practices available to independent agents to help them manage their business in the new environment. For example, it offered tips for keeping in touch with customers through social networks and shared information about self-service payment options and claims.
MAPFRE USA. The insurer is also extending the number of days of rental car cover and contacting policyholders to provide information on the self-service tools available on its website or by phone.
Personal insurance policyholders received 15 percent of their premium back in certain months through the MAPFRE Staying Home Refund program.
The pandemic has not delayed the digital transformation, which has meant new apps for agents and clients. A claims guidance, billing and policy issuance system has been integrated for the former. For the latter, a new consumer portal has been launched at MAPFREInsurance.com. These solutions facilitate business by reducing data requirements and enhancing the user experience with features such as real-time processing of their transactions and improved self-service payment options.
MAPFRE Insurance employees continue to support local communities through various programs. They are especially proud of a collaborative program with the food bank, which raised 90,000 dollars in donations, and a game the company played to raise money for several food banks around the country. Employees have also participated in virtual volunteering programs, such as pen-pal eBuddies; providing virtual assistance to the Bottom Line organization; a career-readiness program for young people called Career Village; and sharing college experiences with members of One Goal.
MAPFRE Insurance is equally pleased with everything it has achieved, despite the circumstances, and remains committed to ensuring that every client, employee, agent and partner feels the protection and appreciation that the company can offer, both today and in the future.