Collector - June 2020 - 29

this client to only those agents who already
took a PC home with them. Both options
proved to be doable, but if we had the client's
specifications in advance, we could have saved
ourselves a little bit of heartburn.

WHAT WE WILL DO TO PREPARE
FOR NEXT TIME
When the pandemic was declared, there
were several critical parts of our business
that were simply too late to change. Two
that stood out for me were our lease terms
and our insurance coverage. Neither
necessarily had an adverse impact on our
company, but I can assure you that nothing
like coronavirus was on my mind when I
reviewed the terms of each the last time
they were due for renewal.
With respect to the building lease, it's
worth reviewing the circumstances under
which the property manager can remove your
access to the building or otherwise cancel
critical services (e.g., security, heating/air,
janitorial services). We made the decision
to exit the premises voluntarily before the
issue ever came up, but our landlord was
eager to find out our plans so he could cancel
cleaning services to our floor and modify the
thermostat. If things had progressed to the
point that we were the last tenant to vacate,
it would have been interesting to see if any
landlord rights would have been invoked.
As for insurance, most agencies reached
out to their broker the moment shelter-inplace rules started getting tossed around,
but the brokers all had the same deflating
response-there is no coverage.
But Wimbledon reportedly received a $141
million payout for their event cancellation
claim so, while not much exists at the moment,
it's not impossible to imagine coverage
providers working this into their suite of
offerings down the line-especially if they
think it can be profitable. While any such
coverage is unlikely to be cheap right out of the
gate, agencies would be wise to start calculating
their losses from the present pandemic so they
have a firm handle on how much coverage they
might need down the road.
Once we had gotten our call center
employees home, it became immediately

COLLECTOR 06.20

clear that we had not necessarily planned
out phase two of our WFM initiative-the
back office staff. Unless you are willing to
change up some mailing addresses, you will
still need someone to pick up the mail. For
most agencies, the mail is typically full of
consumer disputes and payments, both of
which have a time-sensitive element to their
processing. Our solution was to kick out
everyone without a definitive need to access
the building so those who did still need to
be in the office did not feel like they were
putting themselves at unnecessary risk.
Finally, we were faced with the realization
that attrition does not stop just because it is
inconvenient. And while we were able to hire
new replacements with relative ease, we had
some major training obstacles that needed
to be overcome. We were able to cross-train
existing employees with what was available
to us, but we lacked the optimal materials
or communication medium for bringing a
completely blank slate into our virtual world
and getting them up to our usual standard.
We have since developed enough to get us by,
but if/when things return to normal, there is
a definite need to upgrade the process. After
all, if there's one thing we learned for certain
during this whole transition it's that there is
a definite upside for some WFH employees.
And if we are serious about keeping the
option afloat when there is no longer a
defined need, then we need to make sure they
are getting the kind of training that will make
their job feel rewarding.

WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
I suspect most of us will look back at
this experience with a completely new
perspective. I know our agency grew
considerably through the process and-
although we sincerely hope it is not
needed-we will be better prepared for
these conditions should they come up
again. Just be sure to conduct your postmortem while the experience is still fresh,
and be diligent about making the necessary
changes that were identified.
Chris Meier is general counsel and chief
compliance officer for The CMI Group. 

1

Designate one staff
member to handle all
change requests to minimize
confusion.

2

Start calculating
your losses from the
COVID-19 pandemic so you
have a firm handle on how
much insurance coverage
you might need in the future.

3

Get off-site and workfrom-home options
approved in client service
agreements.
29



Collector - June 2020

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