By Brooke Foster
Alfa Insurance understands the importance of being prepared to respond when disasters or unexpected events strike. This continues to be true amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Alfa’s 2019 Alabama Agent of the Year Bernice Givens said the pandemic highlighted the value of Alfa’s hometown agents and customer service representatives.
“Delivering personal service is the most important thing we do every day,” Givens said. “Even amid COVID-19, we’re making every effort to go the extra mile. Whether that means customers coming inside the office or offering curbside assistance to those who didn’t want to come inside. COVID-19 may have changed the way we operate, but it also confirmed that being able to provide personal service has never been more important.”
Alfa President Jimmy Parnell said the company’s efforts to enhance technology and teamwork over the last seven years paid dividends when coronavirus restrictions were implemented.
“It’s amazing to see how well our team members adapted to the changes of our business operations to help customers during the pandemic,” Parnell said. “Our team members helped maintain a positive customer experience by listening to customers and delivering digital services to provide customers with more options for doing business.”
Alfa’s Mike Rowell said customers expect businesses to provide self-service capabilities, and the importance of offering digital tools has accelerated.
“Our digital platforms allowed us to serve our customers better than expected during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rowell, Alfa’s chief information officer. “E-signature, electronic billing and online services such as quote and bind allowed us to meet our customers’ needs with immediate solutions.”
Alfa launched online quote and bind capabilities for Alabama automobile customers at AlfaInsurance.com in March. That service provides customers a simple, convenient way to get coverage. Since its launch, more than 3,000 online quotes were received in Alabama, 377 policies were bound, and 367 new members joined the Alabama Farmers Federation.
Rowell said online payments increased almost 9% from 22,427 in February to 24,580 in April.
As essential businesses, Alfa offices remained open, implementing additional safety guidelines to protect customers and team members. Extra precautions included providing offices with protective shields and additional cleaning supplies.
Flexibility became an important part of serving Alfa customers during the pandemic. Late fees and cancellations for non-payments were waived to provide financial relief. Customers driving less due to travel restrictions also were given the option to reclassify vehicles to reduce premiums.
“Maintaining our renowned level of service, answering the call and being there for customers when they need it most is a promise Alfa keeps, even amid a global pandemic,” said Alfa Executive Vice President of Marketing Al Dees.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Alfa’s local claims adjusters responded to an unusually high number of spring storms, often reacting within 24 hours.
Bryan Hubbard, Alfa’s senior vice president of claims, said the company expects to pay more than $135 million to help customers recover from tornadoes and severe weather events from January through May.
“The Alfa claims team maintained its quick response times to assess damaged property, while practicing social distancing,” Hubbard said. “Our department also offered flexibility in managing claims through virtual communication channels for those who didn’t feel comfortable with on-site visits.”
Parnell said Alfa’s claims response and flexibility in serving customers show how a crisis can bring out the best in people.
“No matter what situation arises, no matter how bad the storm or global pandemic, we will always be here for our customers,” Parnell said.