If you're following along on the social media pages for any of the brands under the Insurance Soup umbrella - Career Agent Concepts, Career Insurance Agents, Tacobot, Agency Elephant, and more recently, The Collective Agency Council - you've read posts or watched videos that share a unified message from Michael McCormick.
It's a common sense message, but with many things that straddle the line between our business lives and our personal lives, this piece of advice is easier said than done.
It is this: When you're striving to connect with a business audience on social media, there is nothing more important than being your authentic self.
Check out Mike's post below for some more in depth thoughts on this topic.
"Your personal stories, thoughts, and ideas have more impact on your audience than your memes. The memes may get you the quick and dirty engagement. Your stories, thoughts, and ideas are what creates the "know, like, and trust" factor needed for easier sales.
Sure, you may share stuff that pushes some people away, but those same words will draw others in very close. Some of the people on your friends list will bounce. And its ok. They are freeing up spots for others who are really into you.
When I first started using social media with intent for business this was a difficult concept to digest. I wanted to be universally liked. The problem with being someone who is just kind of universally liked is that you are not loved.
When I started really sharing my life on here.... my thoughts... my wacky ideas... I lost friends.
Elementary school, high school, college, early jobs, etc...
They weren't REAL friends in my life today. They were just avatars of relationships long gone that I did enjoy keeping up with. But that is not why you are using social media. You are trying to build a business and an Agency.
If the kid who sat next to you in algebra that you reconnected with winds up walking, it's ok.
Organics is both a long term and a short term play. When I started sharing, it wasn't always sunshine and unicorns. But over time the people who didn't like me peaced out and the people who liked my sharing, my antics, my sense of humor came in closer and my edgerank, over time, began to grow more and more.
Now most of my posts are good for 50-200 likes and a lot of what I share is no different than the stuff you post, but my audience is dialed in.
I'm not just a random person in their feed. I'm the person who consistently makes them laugh or think and the people who follow me have a genuine understanding of who I am and what I stand for.
The memes are great. They're funny, witty, and sharp, but they are not allowing anyone to get to know you.
Salt and pepper your content with who you are.
Build the audience who feels like they know you.
It's not a short play, but over time you will have a ton of people who love to engage with you on your social media platforms.
And ultimately, you're more likely to close more deals."
This piece originally ran on The Muse.
Like everybody else, I love to complain about Monday. It’s only natural, really. As that dreaded day that immediately follows the weekend, it’s the logical scapegoat for everybody’s dread.
But, when I take a few minutes to think about it, I don’t really hate Monday all that much. In fact, it’s usually my most productive day of the week. I fire off emails. I make lists. I organize big projects. I identify a foolproof method for achieving world peace.
OK, not really, but you get where I’m going with this. At the beginning of the week, both my ambition and my enthusiasm toward my work are actually running high—even if I’m not quite excited about the fact that Monday has rolled around again so soon.
Friday, on the other hand? Well, I love Friday. I basically consider this day to be an extension of the weekend. I just need to bide my time in order to enjoy 48 hours of relaxation. However, my productivity leaves quite a bit to be desired—there’s a lot more Facebook scrolling, yawning, and mindless staring involved than I would like to admit.
Since I work for myself, I’ve developed the attitude that whatever I don’t wrap up on Friday, I can take care of on Saturday or Sunday. Unfortunately, this usually means that I spend a big chunk of my weekend working on things I actually should’ve been able to finish beforehand.
So, I challenged myself to take my weekends back by making sure I used Friday to its full potential—despite the fact that my motivation is usually waning. Here are a few tips and tricks that helped me realistically do that. I didn’t actually inspire world peace, but I was still way more productive than normal.
1. Complete Smaller Tasks
Let’s face it—this isn’t the day when you’re going to want to tackle those large projects. Those big to-dos just seem far too daunting when you know you’re going to be away from your desk for the next two days anyway.
Instead, I found that completing smaller tasks allows me to still get stuff done and feel accomplished by the time 6 PM rolls around—rather than dilly-dallying all day simply because I’m trying to put off a more time-intensive project. Plus, it’s much easier to get myself geared up to start chipping away at my list when I know that those items don’t involve an overwhelmingly large commitment.
Whether it’s filling out your expense report, taking some time to organize your overflowing inbox, or even de-cluttering your workspace, reserve Friday as the day when you can tie up all of those loose ends that pop up throughout the rest of the week.
2. Plan Your Following Week
Alright, so maybe no productivity trick in the world will inspire you to make short work of your to-do list on a Friday. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan all of the things you want to get done the following week. So, take some time to sit down and map out what it’ll look like.
What exactly do you want to accomplish? What action items or materials are required to get those done? Are there any large projects or presentations you can spend some time outlining right now—making them easier to get started on the following week?
Planning ahead might seem a little on the anal-retentive side. But it’s really a smart move. It allows you to walk into the office on Monday morning knowing exactly what you’re in for—meaning you can also be strategic about where you channel your time and energy.
3. Schedule Meetings
Most of the time, I’m not a big fan of meetings. They tend to break up my workday and function as a constant distraction. But, on Fridays—when being chained to my desk feels like a rare form of torture anyway—having the opportunity to get up and talk things through with others really seems like a blessing.
Now, I make an effort to schedule as many phone calls, meetings, and appointments as I can on Fridays. It gets me away from my desk and allows me to be social with others—rather than mindlessly watching the minutes tick by at my desk. Plus, those scheduled commitments make the day pass by faster. On the last day of the work week, a speeding clock is never a bad thing.
4. Utilize the Pomodoro Technique
I know what you’re thinking. “Oh no, here she comes. She’s going to throw some bogus productivity hack at me that doesn’t actually do anything.”
I can’t blame you for your skepticism—I’m the exact same way. I’ve never been a big believer in the tricks and changes that promise to transform me from unmotivated to unbelievably productive in three seconds flat. But, take it from someone who shares your cynicism: the Pomodoro Technique actually works.
What is it? Basically, it’s a time management method that breaks your day into 25-minute chunks, with five-minute breaks in between. You set a timer for each interval, and it’s said to create a sense of urgency—it inspires you to get as much done in that 25-minute period as you can.
I gave it a try, and it really worked for me. And, while it can be difficult to implement on days when you have a lot of appointments (which I know I just recommendeded you set up), it can definitely still be helpful to use during those periods of time between meetings.
Not only will it inspire you to crank out work at a breakneck pace, but splitting up your day also makes that never-ending Friday in the office feel way more manageable.
If you’re anything like me, Friday is notorious for being your least productive day. But, that doesn’t mean you need to chalk it up as a total wash. Use a few (or all!) of these tips, and you’re sure to make a good dent in your to-do list by the time the weekend rolls around.
Insurance Agency 101 taught all of us that good communication with clients and prospects includes sending holiday and birthday emails. Easy peasy. Done deal. But, these days, by using email newsletters, you can take your customer communication to the next level.
Newsletters are powerful because they deliver content directly to your client's inboxes every month without having to fight for space in their newsfeeds on social media. Simple things like a change to your office hours or information about an upcoming event can get lost in a newsfeed on Facebook, so packaging several pieces of important info and content is a great way to get eyes on it.
Here are a few more reasons why newsletters do a lot of heavy lifting for agencies:
NEWSLETTERS DRIVE CLIENTS & PROSPECTS TO YOUR WEBSITE
Click through baby! Your newsletter should contain links that bring customers directly back to your website. Be sure to keep content short and sweet when writing it and give your readers just enough of a tease to grab their interest, while at the same time encouraging them to click on links to read more. Obviously, the more interesting and relevant your content is, the more likely it is you'll see clicks going back to your site. You want people to be able to get quotes and get in touch with you directly through your insurance website, so the more traffic you get to your site, the better your chances of converting prospects.
NEWSLETTERS KEEP YOU ON YOUR CLIENT'S MINDS
Agents know that a client buys a policy from you with the hope of never having to use it. This means that once your transaction is done, you'll normally only be in contact for updates and occasional niceties unless the client does have an accident that requires a claim. Other than contacting you to pay for their policy, your clients may not think of your agency often. Newsletters help keep your agency in the forefront of their minds (well, once a month at least) and this can lead to very important client referrals.
NEWSLETTERS ARE ONE STOP-SHOPPING FOR YOUR AGENCY'S SOCIAL MEDIA
Let's be honest, the internet is a hornet's nest mixed with a dumpster fire. This means clients and prospects are probably jumping from one site to the next all day long for one reason or another. Ideally, you want online audiences to be able to find you in all of the places where your agency lives on the internet as quickly as possible. As you promote your social media accounts and insurance website from your newsletter, clients will be more likely to swing by to check out your content, follow you and maybe even engage on your social platforms.
Don't be afraid to designate a special section of your newsletter to each of your social media accounts. Your newsletter might contain a section linked to the most recent articles on the blog, a section highlighting your Facebook contests or videos uploaded from your YouTube account. Newsletters are a great way for your agency to deliver and showcase what it's doing on every corner of the internet.
While you may have at one time thought that newsletters were an outdated way to maintain client awareness and interest, today, they're a crucial component of agency marketing. The benefits are all low-cost ways to expand your online reach, to drive traffic to your agency website, and to maintain your brand awareness.
Today is particularly special as we have evolved our multiple award winning marketing and automation mastermind into a comprehensive Insurance Agency Mastermind.
We are walking in the door with hundreds upon hundreds of clients AND launched well north of 6 figures in NEW clients joining the fray with yesterday being almost a 6 figure DAY.
One of the cooler things we have done in evolving our marketing mastermind into this new innovation and brand is let up on our need to be in control and in the spotlight 24/7.
When we were initially establishing ourselves as leaders in this industry we were gun shy to allow others into the spotlight we were carving out.
Once we established we began getting to know other industry giants and leaders and learned that they had plenty of thunder to bring the industry... and some of them simply didnt have audiences... and some of them never thought to teach... and some of them are speaking on stage but never thought to lean into social to extend their voice.
So we decided to stop looking at them as rivals or competitors and began to treat and speak to them for what they really are.. peers.
And as we have evolved into the only comprehensive insurance agent mastermind on the planet... we brought them in.
Now instead of staring across the battlefield at one another... we all stand side by side in a joint effort to help Agents across the country learn skills that will help make them a ton of money... while helping them avoid mistakes in their business that would cost them tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A true data driven, guru led, Agent run mastermind that uses our Collective data, experience, insight, and advice to help each of us become the BEST version of ourselves in our careers.
Live trainings daily.
Dozens upon dozens of hours of instructional education with the library growing daily.
SIX in-person meetups around the country a year.
Speakers and leaders from the industry presenting and training regularly.
Agent spotlights and panels.
We have brought the idea of an insurance conference and turned it digital....and have it running all day every day.
If you are in insurance and the idea of this doesnt get you geeking out a little bit.... insurance probably isn't your career; just a job.
There is SO SO SO much going on inside and SO much opportunity for Agents independent of just learning... it's silly.
We have been very fortunate to carve out a career that most dream of. We get to play online all day helping people we love to see, thrive, and accomplish things they struggled to believe possible.
The launch of every brand has been special over the years but this one has the heart and soul of all involved pouring into it and will be looked back on by all of us, both ownership and clients, as a big moment that once again shifted everything.
Thanks to all my partners, team, and the hundreds upon hundreds of clients that are once again putting their trust in us to lead them to another promised land.... as well as the almost 100 new ones that joined us prior to launch.
Exciting times ahead.
If youre an Agent and want to hop on an upcoming webinar, click the link to register for one right HERE.
The Collective Agency Council is here.... and we are doing things better than you.
Because YOU are working with just YOUR skill sets, experience, and insight and we are working off the Collective data, insight, experience, and skills of Agents ranging in size to just a handful of policies.... to north of $30 million in premium.
The Collective is better than any of us individually.
Check us out.
You are not competing against your fellow Agent, at least not in the sense your corporate overlords want you to believe. Sure, you're competing for the business that’s up in the air, for the shoppers, for the the movers and the shakers… but you are NOT competing with other Agents in your town, with your carrier or in your territory.
You’re just not.
Corporate may make you THINK you are and they may even throw carrots and competitions out at you to get your competitive juices going, but you're never competing with any other agency.
You're battling and competing with your own Agency. And as long as it’s growing faster than you’re losing money in the beginning, as long as it’s doing better than the day before most days (Sales v attrition), and s long as you’re working on lowering expenses and adding more business and lowering attrition, you will win.
But if you begin to focus on how you can beat "Leaderboard Larry", you’ll wind up spending money to compete that you won’t see the same ROi on should you have just done your normal thing and work the leads properly.
We all want to write as much as we can.
We all want to be winners.
We all want to be leaderboard Larry.
The reality is... you’re not competing with Larry. Larry isn’t paying your bills. Larry isn’t thinking about you, but corporate wants you focused on Larry.
They WANT you chasing him. They don’t care if your margins are 1%, 10%, or 50%. Their margins are the same and they just want more business. So let’s get all the agents thinking they’re only good if they keep up with Larry and get them spending their money.
Who cares? Not our money! And we earn more when we get these hamsters running harder.
Run, hampster! Run!
The reality is you are competing against your own agency each and every day. And if you are growing revenues and bottom lines at a comfortable or better pace for YOU, then you are winning in agency.
You are in no way ever competing with your fellow Agent outside of the current prospect you are trying to earn. All the competitiveness you feel in this industry has been placed on you to make you run harder.
Understand there’s a point where you are seeing a diminished return trying to keep up with leaderboard Larry. And there’s a good chance leaderboard Larry’s finances may not be the healthiest in order for him to keep a crown that in reality means absolutely nothing.
The life you’re providing yourself and your family is your crown.
The agency you’re building is your throne.
Make sure your crown and throne are on point.
Don’t worry about Leaderboard Larry or Corporate Carl pushing you to be more like him.
You. Are. Not. Stuck.
Read it again.
You. Are. Not. Stuck.
One of the most frustrating things I come across working with you guys is the Agent who believes that they are not able to make moves.
The fear of not finding another job.
The fear of landing in an Agency even WORSE than the one they're in.
The fear of having to tell the family that you're changing jobs or seeking something new.
And while I would never invalidate anyone's feelings or opinion on anything because a feeling is personal, the actual fear is misplaced.
We are in one of, if not the MOST, fluid industries out there.
30-50% of all Agents in your area are hiring at all times.
They may not be advertising it. You may not find it on Monster.com, Indeed.com, or another job site, but if you walked in with a positive attitude, your resume, a brag book showcasing your numbers, and with contagious enthusiasm, most Agents will think long and hard about giving you a chance.
Look around your office. There is a good chance you are either by yourself and you need to grow. Or maybe you are there with a few people and at least ONE of them REALLY SUCKS at closing sales (and your Agent knows it). Or maybe there is someone toxic that is just being dealt with because they produce. And this is happening in EVERY OFFICE.
As Agents, we are taught to always be looking out for our next great team member. Some captives push their Agents to have one more person employed than they feel they need because they are always on the verge of potentially losing talent and it's better to be a little overstaffed and pushing than it is to be constantly hiring and behind.
Point is this. You are not stuck.
You may feel stuck.
You may think you are stuck.
But you are not stuck.
If you need a change of scenery do not be afraid of exploring it.
Right now, more than ever, we have Agents all around the country facilitating a remote opportunity, building large teams, flexible with remote learning, or are open to helping you deal with whatever issues you feel hold you back in your career right now, even if its just a good old change of scenery.
I wanted to plant this seed in all of your heads.
If you are unhappy we are in one of the most fluid industries in the world and there is no one and nothing keeping you there but you.
Find happiness in your career.
Don't allow yourself to stay stuck.
You've worked hard throughout your career to help families and businesses in your community protect their assets and loved ones from risk. With a busy business book, fantastic staff, and a well-established office, you've made a name for yourself and can be proud of your success. However, you may have come to a part of your life where you feel like now is the time for a change. You've built up an insurance agency that's provided for yourself and your family, but you're ready to sell. So, what happens next?
The following 4 steps will help you to prepare yourself for and to simplify the process of selling your insurance agency.
THE FIRST STEP - HAVE YOUR AGENCY VALUED
As an agency owner, you have been working hard to build your agency and make it profitable. Are you aware of your agency's value? It is important to determine your agency's value before you try to sell it. Several factors should be considered, including your agency's location, the markets you serve, and the variety of your books. Is your risk spread across many different accounts or is it concentrated in the hands of a few large clients?
THE SECOND STEP - HAVE A PLAN FOR THE MARKETING AND SALE OF YOUR AGENCY
Three years before you hope to close the deal, you should begin planning for the sale of your agency. It is important to hire the right team to guide you through the process, starting with a good business attorney. Performing the valuation is the first step. If there are issues, you have time to rectify them. After that, a prospective buyer's search, negotiations, and the final closing follow. There is a time commitment associated with each of these steps. Start the process long before you're ready to hang up your hat.
THE THIRD STEP - HAVE OPTIONS FOR SELLING YOUR AGENCY
You can sell your agency to a buyer inside your organization, such as a producer, or externally, such as a competitor. It is possible to borrow money in order to buy your agency outright when you sell your agency internally. In this case, the transaction is called a leveraged buyout. Alternatively, you might work out a deal where the buyer pays you incrementally until they have fully taken over the business. A transaction in which the owner finances the purchase is called an owner-financed transaction.
There are some external sales that are rolled up. The process of absorbing your agency into another agency's structure is called merger. A buyer can also purchase your agency outright and move right in without changing staff or location. Another type of book buy is when the buyer purchases a list of your customers only, not your staff.
THE FOURTH STEP - HAVE TERMS READY
Selling your agency means that you want to get as much cash as possible as a fixed price. It is in the buyer's interest to put down very little and pay a percentage of commissions over several years as the contract is renewed. The buyer and seller usually have opposite objectives, so they are usually at odds. It's important to know exactly what you hope to get out of the transaction going in so that you can end up happy with the final outcome of the sale.
When you want to sell your agency, having a great team by your side can make the process much easier. It will be bumpy. Expect it from the beginning. Even with the best planning, there is a chance that something unexpected will happen. Using a professional approach, these glitches should be dealt with. Please remember that this is purely business. Put all of the pieces in place and relax. You deserve to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
One of the most difficult things to do in Agency is keeping a staff accountable to their efforts and production.
Unless you have a system that monitors calls, keystrokes, computer usage, or have a surveillance system in your office, hich is not the case in most Agencies, you're pretty much going off what you are being told.
What's crazy about it is most Agents fail to see the true opportunity that is being missed by failing to have a structured accountability plan in place in their office.
Being told by an employee "I asked easily 30 people today about life insurance and they all told me no" and taking that at face value without any real verification is not a way to run your business. I hate to say it so boldly but people exaggerate their efforts and fudge their numbers. And no one likes to get called on their bullshit. If you have a producer who tells you they ask every person every time and they have no production to show for it, theyr'e either fluffing you hardcore OR they are in tremendous need of training.
Most Agents hear that there's effort and no performance and shrug their shoulders and say to themselves
"Fish ain't biting right now." But once you are able to (and I hate using corporate lingo) "inspect what you expect" and you strip away the ability for your staff to BS their way through conversations with you regarding effort and production, the real issues begin to show themselves.
Being able to hold a team member's feet to the fire while holding them accountable is powerful. I'm not talking about big brother standing over everyone's shoulder, spying all day every day, but being able to know how, why, and where your producers conversations are going south, if they are making their calls, if they are using their word tracks, if they are pivoting properly... all that stuff. It allows for you to begin to build an Agency with intent and it allows you to build an Agency that is not always reliant on whether or not they have a rock star producer in the house or not.
Most Agencies do not have a way to keep their team accountable and employees not knowing their numbers, fudging their efforts, or exaggerating their claims while having an Agent who simply accepts the answers they are given is basically an asylum being run by the crazies.
Not calling you insane, producers, but the bottom line is that as the owner of a business, we must be willing to dig into our metrics and understand what is really going on and not simply what we are being told. What we are being told is often a fantasy being weaved by employees looking to stay out of hot water, staff refusing to admit they're not talking about a product or service, or just plain thinking they're putting in a lot more effort than actually delivered.
Accountability within your Agency.
Even though they are tough and uncomfortable conversations, it's a big part of why some Agencies go on to become $20, $30, 50 million dollar books and why others simply flop.
Any agent knows that customers are critical to the longevity of your insurance agency, which is why creating long-lasting customer loyalty plays such a crucial role in our industry. A happy customer returns to buy more products from you, and this is easier, cheaper and more reliable than buying leads and hunting down prospects.
So, how do you make (and keep) a customer happy? Customer loyalty and client happiness are affected by a lot of factors including, but not limited to, customer service, relationship curation, agent/client trust, and actually listening to what your clients need.
We've put together a short list of ways that you and your staff can help maximize customer loyalty so that renewals become the standard for your agency:
EVERYONE ON THE SAME PAGE
Employee training maximizes the potential for profitable growth of your business. Positive training sessions will improve employee attitudes in the company. Boring training sessions will waste time and money and lead to negative attitudes. Motivate your employees to participate in training by explaining why it is beneficial for their careers and for the business.
KEEP YOUR EARS OPEN
Top notch customer service means always going above and beyond to meet the needs of the customer. The best customer service results in repeat business, because people remember to be treated well. You an d your staff need to always be aware of incoming complaints and concerns of customers. The feedback you receive from your dissatisfied customers gives you an opportunity to resolve their issue and improve your service.
LEMONS TO LEMONADE!
Once you receive a client complaint, it's important to meet with your staff to figure out how to improve operations in your agency so the same mistake doesn't happen again. Be sure to examine what happened and how. This is the only way to fix the things that aren't working well and to give your customers a more satisfying experience. Inform customers whenever changes are implemented and that their feedback was taken into account.
GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER
Keeping in touch with your customers throughout the year is an excellent way to surprise them and keep a smile on their face when it comes to you. Sending personalized emails, thank you notes, and birthday cards shows them you care about them and their business. Be sure someone on your staff is keeping a database with this information and designate someone in charge of consistently staying on top of personal greetings.
You might be able to predict whether or not a customer will renew their insurance policy with you from the way they interact with you over the course of their existing policy, or there could be one pivotal moment throughout your business relationship that is the deciding factor. Every client and situation is different, which is why it's important to have a range of plans to keep customers happy.
This piece originally ran on Law360.com.
With the inception of the 2020 hurricane season and the potential end of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, insurance companies face unique and unprecedented challenges in the event a major hurricane strikes before the conclusion of the pandemic.
How the insurance industry will handle the number of claims that result from a major hurricane is an overarching concern. Currently, the insurance industry is inundated with business interruption and other losses stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic; therefore, it is appropriate to consider what resources will be left to commit to another large catastrophe.
Responding to a major catastrophe requires a highly coordinated effort across all levels of government, and any attempt to coordinate such a response in today's climate would be further complicated by the social distancing guidelines public health officials have put in place in the wake of COVID-19. In light of these challenges, insurers should be planning ahead to ensure appropriate resources are available for the investigation and adjustment of hurricane-related claims.
The Above-Average 2020 Hurricane Forecast
Both the European and American forecast models have predicted an active 2020 hurricane season. For instance, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center predicted a 60% chance of an above-normal season. Additionally, researchers from Penn State forecast 2020 to be the busiest hurricane season in the last decade, ranging from 15 to 24 storms.
Similarly, researchers from Colorado State University forecast that the 2020 hurricane season will have at least 16 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes. Although these are just predictions, researchers from Colorado State project that the chance that at least one major hurricane will make landfall in 2020 along the U.S. coastline is 69%, as compared to an average over the last century of 52%. In comparison, the 2017 hurricane forecast predicted average activity with 11 to 17 named storms of which 5 to 9 could become major hurricanes.
Since 2017, the insured losses for major hurricanes that formed in the Atlantic have totaled approximately $30 billion dollars. In Florida alone, the total estimate of insured losses for Hurricane Irma is approximately $11 billion, and the total estimated insured losses for Hurricane Michael is approximately $7 billion. In Texas, the total estimated insured losses for Hurricane Harvey is about $15 billion. In sum, Atlantic hurricane activity in the southern U.S. has caused approximately $30 billion in estimated losses throughout the course of the last three hurricane seasons.
Resource Issues Facing Insurance Carriers
COVID-19 is already forcing some states to rethink their models for hurricane preparedness. Specifically, how will local, state and federal authorities provide shelter for evacuees without further spreading the virus. The Florida Division of Emergency Management is redeveloping plans for evacuations and shelters, while also adding facemasks to the state's stockpile of storm supplies. Additionally, various federal lawmakers have already requested that the Federal Emergency Management Agency provide information on how it plans to balance its response to natural disasters with its COVID-19 response.
Many lawmakers expressed concern that FEMA's resources are already depleted from its response to the COVID-19 crisis, as well as concerns regarding inadequate staffing, sheltering procedures in a time of social distancing, and a global shortage of necessary protective gear, all of which could affect FEMA's ability to respond to a hurricane.
FEMA recently issued a statement that it "has 3,000 employees dedicated to COVID-19 response out of 20,000 employees "ready to respond to other emergencies" and still has $80 billion left in the Stafford Act fund, after allotting more than $5 billion for the coronavirus crisis."
Also, a number of organizations, including FEMA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have issued guidelines as to how to properly prepare for a hurricane during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, FEMA stresses that planning during this hurricane will be different because of the need to protect against COVID-19. FEMA further recommends:
Large insurance companies that rely on in-house adjusters positioned all over the country face challenges in getting adjusters on the ground to investigate claims. Travel is complicated in the current environment. Although some hotels and resorts may remain open amid the pandemic, many hotels throughout the U.S. have experienced closures and temporarily ceased operations.
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has issued executive orders requiring travelers flying into Florida from certain states including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to self-quarantine for two weeks which could also affect response times if a hurricane were to make landfall in Florida. Texas has issued similar travel restrictions requiring travelers to self-quarantine for two weeks if flying or travelling by roadway from certain places.
With travel restrictions like these in place, insurance carriers could be discouraged from bringing out-of-state adjusters into the state after a major hurricane. Scarcity of insurance adjusters can cause frustration among policyholders, as well as a potential delay in the adjustment of insurance claims, which makes litigation more likely.
Whether adjusters are occupied responding to another catastrophe, or travel restrictions limit an adjuster's ability to gain access to a geographical area for an inspection, issues in the initial phase of the adjustment process are likely. Following Hurricane Irma, the lack of available independent adjusters ultimately caused a surge in billing among adjusters that were available. This led to increased costs for insurers. Accordingly, in preparation for hurricane season, it is important that insurers align resources and assign contracts for independent adjusters so that pricing and availability do not become an issue.
Logistical issues in the claims handling process are sure to be pervasive in the event of a major hurricane, especially if the COVID-19 pandemic has not come to a halt. Insurance carriers can get ahead of the curve by allocating resources and having contingency plans in place including emergency response teams and contracts with local vendors.
Court Disruptions Lead to Problems in Litigation
Logistical concerns facing the legal system are also important when considering the issues insurers potentially face in the case of a major hurricane during a pandemic. Florida courts faced challenges handling the vast number of disputes and procuring trial dates following Hurricane Irma. It is reasonable to assume that those same issues could be exacerbated in the event of a major hurricane, especially if the COVID-19 pandemic is still restricting the courts' ability to operate.
The spread of COVID-19 has already caused jury trials to be discontinued, ongoing cases significantly delayed, and a scramble for technological workarounds as most of the legal field works from home. According to the National Center for State Courts, dozens of the 94 federal courts around the U.S. have closed and delayed trials, state court systems have restricted or ended jury trials, and many have suspended in-person proceedings entirely until a time yet to be determined. 
During the 2020 hurricane season, insurers would benefit from advanced preparation to allow for the efficient handling of claims to reduce tensions with policyholders already frustrated by COVID-19. Taking all of this into consideration, insurers should brace for a potentially significant hurricane season by addressing the possibility of depleted resources, including the number of available insurance adjusters and social distancing requirements that may make investigation and adjustment of claims difficult following a hurricane. The more insurers consider the potential complications following a hurricane in the wake of COVID-19, the better they will be prepared to respond.
 See https://www.wesh.com/article/2020-hurricane-season-forecast/32019427.; See also https://www.wtsp.com/article/weather/hurricane/2020-hurricane-season-florida-atlantic-gulf-of-mexico-penn-state-forecast/67-4a95a174-c16d-49b7-9206-8dbc913a957f.
 See https://www.noaa.gov/media-release/above-normal-atlantic-hurricane-season-is-most-likely-year.
 See https://www.insurancecouncil.org/tdi-releases-harvey-data-call-report/.
 See https://www.local10.com/news/local/2020/05/06/florida-makes-plans-for-dealing-with-novel-coronavirus-during-hurricane-season/?__vfz=medium%3Dsharebar.
 See https://www.clickorlando.com/news/local/2020/05/11/florida-adds-covid-19-into-its-hurricane-preparations/.
 See Justin Coleman, The Hill, "Democratic lawmakers ask how FEMA is planning to balance natural disasters, COVID-19 response" April 20, 2020.
 See https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/covid-19/prepare-for-hurricane.html; See also https://www.fema.gov/blog/2020-05-08/preparing-hurricane-season-during-covid-pandemic.
 See https://www. https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/covid-19/public-disaster-shelter-during-covid.html.
 See https://www.wsj.com/articles/florida-is-short-on-insurance-adjusters-and-that-could-stall-recovery-efforts-1505381401.
 See https://www.courthousenews.com/one-year-later-hurricane-irmas-fallout-looms-large-in-florida-courts/.
 See https://abcnews.go.com/US/coronavirus-crippling-courts-raising-concerns-civil-liberties-advocates/story?id=69757862.