Insurance Insights: Q&A with Stephanie Bush of The Hartford

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"We celebrate your entrepreneurship and ingenuity and want to ensure you're properly protected as you pursue your dream." — Stephanie Bush, The Hartford

Insurance industry leaders have distinct perspectives on insurance topics and are, therefore, uniquely qualified to provide business owners insights on how to help mitigate risk and protect themselves, their employees and their businesses in this ever-changing business environment.

Welcome to "ADPIA Insurance Insights," a new interview series by Automatic Data Processing Insurance Agency, Inc. (ADPIA®) in which we connect with those industry experts in a forum to share ideas.

Chris D'Ambrosio, senior vice president and general manager of ADP®'s Insurance Services division, recently spoke with Stephanie Bush, Executive Vice President, Small Commercial and Personal Lines, at The Hartford.

D'Ambrosio: How should a small business owner think about business insurance in this post-COVID economy?

Bush: From an insurance perspective, we understand obtaining a policy may not be top of mind for business owners right now. However, it should be a priority because it's important to know—especially in these unprecedented times—what kinds of insurance coverages owners and their businesses need.

Today, more than ever, small business owners should rely on their trusted advisors for help: their lawyer, accountant, banker, insurance agents and brokers. It's important they do that, as they may well be surprised at how this network can provide support and advice on critical things relating to their business—from access to loans or helping to understand and mitigate risk in an environment that continues to pose new challenges every day.

The 30 million small business owners across the U.S. are dealing with a lot right now. Many states began issuing shelter-in-place provisions in March and the US economy lost 11 years' worth of job gains in the first five weeks of the pandemic. Almost two-thirds (64%) of small businesses said their cash reserves couldn't last more than three months. Now, fast forward to reopening and all the unprecedented challenges they face with COVID-19, CDC guidance and getting their customers back, purchasing insurance might be #99 on their list of 100 things to do.

Small businesses are rightfully focusing on the safety of their employees and customers. And they absolutely should do that. However, it's also important to understand the role insurance plays in this new environment.

D'Ambrosio: What has COVID-19 taught the business insurance industry about serving small business owners?

Bush: I can talk about what we did and learned at The Hartford. First, we worked very hard to put ourselves in the shoes of small business owners and of our agents. We worked with small businesses to accommodate the new normal. For example, some restaurants changed their business model from dining in to delivery. We understood the need for flexibility and speed and offered coverages for these new exposures.

We also saw how important it is to be decisive, nimble and have a bias for action in uncertain situations. In the early days of COVID-19, we suspended non-renewals, which are initiated due to losses or a change in exposure and established a 60-day billing grace period. We said to small businesses that may have gone into cancellation status, we're not going to cancel. We also offered flexibility with different billing solutions to help our customers manage cash flow.

We know these are important lessons because we've heard a lot of feedback from owners who said to us things like, "you helped save our business by offering flexibility around billing and reducing our exposures (payroll or sales) as our business changed." That's been so gratifying, just hearing the relief in a small business owner's voice as we explained how we could help.

D'Ambrosio: What insurance advice would you give small business owners?

Bush: Pursue your dream and flex with the opportunities and uncertainties in front of you. You have a passion, a vision for how you want to serve your community. From an insurance perspective, we understand obtaining a policy may not be your top priority but it's important to know your coverages and know what you need. We on the insurance side have an obligation to demystify the coverages and explain them in terms of your business needs. We celebrate your entrepreneurship and ingenuity and want to ensure you're properly protected as you pursue your dream.

We understand running a business is more complicated now and there is much more to navigate. Business owners need different kinds of resources today to serve their customers. It's so important to rely on your trusted resources, which is why we've put so much useful content on our Hartford.com website, with insights on how to reopen, CDC checklists, and more.

Lean into your trusted sources for advice. We're here to help however we can.

D'Ambrosio: Thanks for your time, Stephanie. We appreciate you sharing your insight.

For more information about ADPIA visit: Insurance.adp.com