Staying Abreast of Best Health Practices is Important
One of the vexing issues related to COVID-19 is that it is a novel coronavirus—as far as epidemiologists know, it has never existed before. We’ve all had experience with the common cold, and many of us have had the flu before, so we have a pretty good idea of what to expect with those viruses. But with COVID-19 and its baffling array of symptoms that range from a slight tickle in the throat to death in a matter of days, none of us knows how the illness might affect us or those we could potentially pass it along to.
Because of this, no matter what our beliefs and practices might be in our personal lives, insurance agents on the job need to err on the side of caution when it comes to interacting with clients—for an indefinite period of time. To do that well, it’s going to be important to stay abreast of safety recommendations even as they are updated on a regular basis.
Follow Local Ordinances
A good way to keep up on the latest information specific to your area is to follow your local elected officials and/or health department on social media. Make it a point to check those accounts daily so you don’t miss an important update.
Also be aware that in some locations, local ordinances supersede state guidelines. For instance, a governor may recognize that masks don’t make sense in rural areas and therefore make them optional statewide. But the mayor of a larger metropolitan area within the state may make masks mandatory because of that city’s population density and/or likelihood of outside contact due to people coming in from more highly-infected areas.
Safer In-Person Visits
When possible, handle your client interactions over the phone or via videoconferencing. If you do need to see someone in person, try to do it outdoors. Coronavirus droplets are neutralized by sunlight and more quickly dispersed by the movement of air, making outside a safer choice than enclosed spaces. You’ll still want to wear masks if you’re within six feet of one another and make sure that tables and seating are appropriately sterilized before either of you touch them.
If you’re in a situation where you need to wear a mask, make sure you’re wearing it properly. It should be pulled up over your mouth and nose and fit close to your face without obvious gapping. Current recommendations are for at least two layers of cloth (tight-weave cotton is effective and more comfortable for most than synthetic materials), and features like a pinchable nose can get you an even tighter fit.
Remember to handle your mask carefully when you take it off. Remove it by the ear loops/ties and avoid touching the portion that fits over your face, which is where any virus droplets expelled by others are most likely to be trapped. Also, make sure to wash your masks regularly.
One area that has gotten less restrictive as more research has been done is document handling. While it is possible for the virus to live on paper for up to five days, the usual lifespan is quite a bit shorter. This is good news about items sent in the mail, which present a low risk for recipients (once they are removed from any exterior packaging that has been recently handled by a delivery person).
If you are in a situation where you need to deal with documents in person, you’ll need to be more cautious. Place any documents that need to be transferred from you to another person on a sterilized surface before moving at least six feet away to let the recipient pick them up. (Supplying hand sanitizer or a box of latex gloves for them to put on is a nice touch.) If you have something that needs to be signed, ask them to sign with their own pen or supply a sterilized pen that they can keep.
If you are receiving documents in person, bring a bag to slide them in and a disposable glove for the hand that will be touching the papers directly. After you’ve got the papers in the bag, you can throw the glove away and safely touch surfaces like your phone, car keys, and steering wheel. Ideally, you can then keep those documents in the bag for a few days to let any virus droplets die.
Maintaining a sterile environment like this not only protects you but also those you love. In addition, it shows respect and concern for your customers. At a time when anxieties are high and so much about this disease is still unknown, those bedrock qualities of good customer service are needed now more than ever.
Ready for some new prospects? Hometown Quotes has fresh leads for insurance agents all around the country. Give us a call at 800.820.8921 to learn more.