Hybrid work and vaccine mandates: Insurance companies adapt

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Jasmine Kim

B2B Content Manager

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Jasmine is The Zebra’s newsroom content writer. With a background in journalism, she reports on breaking news, trends, mergers and acquisitions, and …

In November 2021, the unemployment rate in the insurance industry hit its lowest level in more than a decade, possibly due to dealing with the repercussions from the pandemic, the labor shortage and the high retirement rates. Here are a few ways insurance carriers have been adjusting their every-day business models to retain employees. 

Employee perks 

GEICO recently reported that it would be increasing starting salaries in its Indianapolis, Kansas City and Buffalo regional offices for sales, customer service and claims positions. 

According to a survey conducted by The Jacobson Group and Ward, 40% of personal lines carriers reported that they plan to increase hiring over the next year due to understaffing and are looking to offer employees titles or perks such as country club memberships to maintain retention. Other popular perks offered to employees across all industries include team-building activities like escape rooms, unlimited paid time off and sleeping pods. 

Vaccination mandates 

Some employers are even adding vaccination status to job applications: a recent study by ResumeOK revealed that 86% of employers prefer to hire vaccinated candidates, while three-fourths say that mandates make hiring more challenging. 

In a different survey conducted by Willis Towers Watson, more than half of U.S. employers say they require or plan to require COVID-19 vaccinations. Nearly all employers will offer testing on a weekly basis (80%), and nearly all employers require or plan to require masks to be worn indoors. 

Progressive announced that it would start charging employees an annual fee if they don’t get the COVID-19 vaccine starting in January 2022. The carrier is just one of at least 100 companies that have imposed a vaccine or test mandate, as companies could face fines as high as $130,000. The carrier imposed a $25 bi-weekly ($650 annually) surcharge on employees enrolled in its medical plans who do not want to get fully vaccinated.  

Nationwide initially reported that it would comply with the federal vaccine mandate as well in November, but paused its vaccine requirements due to legal challenges. The carrier already deploys other precautionary measures such as enforcing a mask policy, social distancing and not allowing more than 50% of its workforce in its facilities at any given time.

USAA announced in early December that it will require its employees to show proof of being vaccinated against the coronavirus starting in early January, but is not mandating the vaccine. Those who aren’t vaccinated will have to wear a mask on the company property.

American Family also already committed to the vaccination mandate back in August

Hybrid and flexible work 

Although about 15% of insurance companies are eventually expected to physically go back to the office four or five days a week, flexible and hybrid work models are changing the way the industry attracts employees. These new business models have been at the forefront of employee retention tactics as companies implement varying work-life balance strategies like offering mental health tools, being generous with time off and providing upskilling services. 

Not only has flexible and hybrid work opened up the door for insurers hiring as it broadens the employer’s pool of talent; the insurance industry has seen more productivity after implementing hybrid work models. In fact, many top personal lines carriers have taken steps to permanently shift large portions of their workforce to these new models, with some opting to sell their physical office spaces.