A minute on me - Brad Figures and Nick Bregolin, TP Insurance Services

Adviser Interview coronavirus

Coronavirus is having a significant impact on our way of life – from how our society functions, to the way we conduct business and our ability to connect with friends and family. TP Insurance Services have many clients who were impacted by both the bushfires of earlier this year and now COVID-19. Brad Figures and Nick Bregolin share how they are helping their clients to navigate the changing social and economic environment and help them to plan for the new normal.

What are some of the inquiries that have been coming in lately?
Brad: We've had an array of inquiries coming in - some people are now unemployed, there are a lot of people closing the doors to their businesses, so they are effectively on hold for the moment. And for some, it’s maybe two or three businesses that are affected or even both husband and wife who have lost their jobs. Lots of people are asking questions around their insurance – when it’s paid to and when the next payments will be due.

Are there any other any specific watch outs for clients who are now impacted by COVID?
Brad: What we're finding is that in certain situations, there's no pandemic exclusions. So, it’s really important for people to be aware of when a claim could be paid. With everything going on in the industry, it's actually become a lot harder to get underwriting to accept certain health conditions that weren't as much of an issue before.

People need to be aware that if they do cancel their cover, or put it on hold, when it’s time to reinstate the cover, and you have some health or other issues, you may not be able to get the same quality of cover.

And what, according to you is, is the worst thing that clients can be possibly doing during this time of increased volatility?
Nick: The one thing that I say to every client is do not make financial decisions solely based on fear. Specifically, when people are looking to move to cash or sell their positions, whether it’s superannuation or investments, people can be completely just stuck in the moment. It’s important to consider their existing strategies and recommendations were made with a long-term view. People should ask, how does this current situation impact what they are trying to achieve longer term, before making any change or decision on their investments?

Have you had to change the way you conduct business with your clients? How have you found the move to a more remote way of working?
Brad: We've always spent a lot of time on the phone with our clients. Because of our client base, there’s always been the challenge of finding time for them to get into the office, so we’ve always spent a fair bit of time speaking with them on the phone. What we have increased is the use of other mediums like Skype and FaceTime. And we obviously use email a lot. For me, personally, that hasn't been a major change at all.

Have there be any changes about how you’ve engaged with your clients?
Nick: I've noticed that my clients are more involved in the process. I believe it’s because they are working from home and don’t have the distractions that were present before the lockdown. They have more time to engage readily with us and respond quickly. And they are putting more importance into what we're doing for them as well because of the situation.

What are some of the things that you're doing to make sure that you're maintaining your own wellbeing?
Brad: What’s been important for us is to ensure that we have a routine. We have our standard meetings; we can see each other’s calendars and we speak with each other quite often so we are across what’s going on. In addition to that, I try to go for a walk (I’ve put on my step tracker to measure and set myself targets). And then the other thing I'm doing a lot of, and probably more than I've ever done is just keeping contact and checking in with friends and family – using facetime and video conferencing.

Nick: It’s definitely important to keep a routine. And it’s important to take a break and connect in with others. I catch up once a week with a group of friends via zoom chat – it’s usually six to eight of us. We’ve even organised some online games to keep us all entertained.

What's your one piece of advice for people at this point in time?
Brad: There is a lot of noise out there at the moment about insurance, the virus, and the impact to the economy. We’ve just got to continue to be clear about what we do. We are an essential service and it’s important we are there for our clients to give them an update and provide that peace of mind. Some clients are going through challenging, stressful, and frustrating times. So, my advice is to try to end the conversation with the person feeling better than when they initially called.

Nick: For me, I’m thankful that we can actually help people out in this sort of time. We may not be helping people who are sick, but we are playing a crucial role for people who have been impacted financially. It’s important to remember that we do have the ability to help some people feel better and assist with managing financially through these unusual times.