In March, which now seems like the distant past, I shared the steps Pharmacists Mutual was taking to protect our employees while ensuring our ability to provide our members with superior service. Previous testing of our business continuity plans assured the service upon which you depend.
As cases appeared to decline in May, we allowed up to one-third of our employees to return to our offices. While our Iowa office continues at this level, we again closed our Austin, Texas office in late June as case numbers began climbing rapidly. At this time, we have no definitive timetable to reopen that office or change the staffing level of our Iowa office.
Over the past several months, our claims team has responded to the needs of members and their employees as workers compensation claims due to COVID-19 exposure have been reported. We are especially saddened that some of these claims are due to fatalities. We review each claim for compensability in compliance with the applicable state workers compensation laws, regulations, and pandemic related orders.
We have offered other relief as well. For members whose business was disrupted, we have amended policy premiums to better reflect the changed risk level. We also offered premium deferrals during the difficult months of April and May. Finally, due to the shelter in place orders around the country in April and May, we provided premium returns to our personal auto members.
In conjunction with other engaged groups, we have been asking legislators to approve liability protection so essential businesses, workers, and professionals are not victimized by a wave of lawsuits. We are also working to help craft a sustainable approach to provide assistance to businesses impacted by potential future pandemics.
While dealing with the ongoing concerns of the pandemic, many of our members were confronted with damage due to the civil unrest in late May and early June. Once again, our claims team has stepped up to help begin the recovery. The claims for the unrest will likely result in the largest catastrophe loss in Pharmacists Mutual's history. However, our strong financial position and our reinsurance support assure our ability to respond as promised by our policies.
Pharmacists Mutual is honored to serve so many members who have served their communities during the pandemic.
March 26, 2020
As noted previously, we implemented our Pandemic Business Continuity protocols on March 20. By March 23, nearly all employees were working remotely. We have a few of us still in the offices for some functions requiring physical presence such as incoming and outgoing mail and facility maintenance. Our plans had been fully tested in the past, and we are operating as expected during this national emergency.
While we are attempting to avoid unnecessary physical contact, we want you to know that in nearly all jurisdictions that have issued "shelter in place" orders, the business of insurance is considered essential and is exempt. If you need a physical visit from your local representative, risk management, or claim adjuster, please contact us.
The annual policyholder meeting for Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Company is usually held on the third Friday of May. The Board of Directors has voted to postpone the 2020 meeting until August due to the pandemic. Members will receive notice when the new date is established.
Although we do not know what future disruption may occur, you can take a simple step to mitigate a postal service disruption. Sign up for your member portal account and select paperless delivery. You will receive policies and invoices in your portal account, avoiding potential delays while helping the environment. You also have the ability to download the documents to save elsewhere.
The Pharmacists Mutual team is proud to support our members throughout the country, most of whom remain operational since they are also essential. Thank you for serving your communities during this time of need.
March 20, 2020
As daily events surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak continue to evolve, so do our actions and response to maintain safety while providing you with the best possible service. Here are our latest updates.
- We have now fully engaged our Pandemic Business Continuity protocols and all offices are closed to the public.
- All employees are now working remotely with the exception of those that must be in the office to carry out required tasks or those who have no access to internet from their home.
- By Monday, March 23, we will have 15 or less people inside our main office and less than five people in our Austin, Texas office.
- Travel for Field employees in CA, NY, PA, and WA is suspended with the exception of claim adjusting activities.
- Field employees in all other states have restricted travel to critical member needs only.
Our entire team remains on duty to assist you by phone or email as needed. Please reach out if there is anything we can do to assist with your insurance needs. We expect your calls to be answered as usual, but please understand that slight delays and unusual background noise may occur due to the remote work situation.
I would like to assure all members that your company remains well capitalized and has considerable liquidity in order to deal with financial market volatility.
In addition, nearly all of our commercial members operate critical operations that remain open during this pandemic. Thank you for being there for your patients and customers during a time of need. And, thank you for your trust in Pharmacists Mutual.
March 19, 2020
Pharmacists Mutual is announcing additional steps to safeguard our employees, members, and the public.
- Additional employees will begin working remotely. With this change, we expect less than 20% of our team will be in our main office at any one time. Those who are in the office have been instructed to distance themselves from others, and we have temporarily moved some people to other workstations.
- The Board of Directors of Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Company has voted unanimously to postpone the 2020 annual Policyholder Meeting originally scheduled for May 15, 2020. The meeting will be held in August. Members will be notified of the meeting date in advance in compliance with Iowa law and the company by-laws.
- The Company is working to comply with H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act signed by President Trump on March 18. Even before this law was enacted, the Company took steps to provide employees additional sick days for use during the pandemic.
- We will be offering payment flexibility for members who need it. Please click here for more details.
The Pharmacists Mutual team is working hard to maintain the level of service you expect during this disruption. However, with most staff working remotely you may experience some unusual delay. Thank you for understanding.
March 16, 2020
Pharmacists Mutual is actively monitoring the ongoing developments regarding COVID-19. The safety of our employees, members, and community while continuing to serve our members is our number one priority. We have implemented the following actions to reduce risk of exposure to the virus:
- Access to our offices will be restricted. Only approved visitors with a critical business reason are permitted.
- Our local PMC Advantage Insurance Services offices are limiting staff and closing the offices to public access.
- The company will be restricting non-essential business travel through at least April 15.
- Our facilities personnel are spending extra time and resources cleaning and disinfecting our work areas.
- A significant portion of our staff will be working remotely, mostly from their homes, through at least the end of March. This step is being taken to reduce the chance of exposure to the employees who will remain in the office.
- Our technology team is ensuring we have the equipment in place if all or most of our remaining employees cannot make it to our offices.
Pharmacists Mutual has invested considerable time and resources for business continuity planning. A pandemic is a scenario that we have included in our preparations. Our tested continuity plan allows us to operate during unexpected events like this, and we will endeavor to provide you with uninterrupted service.
We will continue to monitor COVID-19 through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization and will make additional adjustments to operations as the situation demands. If you have a specific question, please contact us at 800.247.5930 or email us at email@example.com.
Edward J. Yorty
President and CEO
Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Group