Stella Pruscino on the need for self care and compassion

Stella Pruscino from Edgewise Insurance Brokers spoke to NIBA Editor, Tanaya Das on the need for insurance brokers to be kind to themselves

Written on 13 October, 2021
Tanaya Das

NIBA Victoria Committee Chair, Stella Pruscino from Edgewise Insurance Brokers spoke to NIBA Editor, Tanaya Das on the need for insurance brokers to be kind to themselves as they deal with an extended hard marked compounded by a global pandemic.

A June 2020 Roy Morgan report found that almost 60 percent of workers in insurance and finance worked from home during the pandemic, there is a tremendous amount of pressure being placed on broking teams to meet expectations in a remote working environment. Pruscino said, “The pandemic has coincided with one of the hardest markets I have experienced in my 30 plus years in the profession. Almost all corporate accounts have either faced remarketing or tough negotiations with holding insurers on limits, deductibles, endorsements, and the introduction of new COVID-19 and cyber endorsements. For brokers who have not previously been involved in a hard market, this has placed greater pressure on them in a remote environment without easy access to colleagues and that’s not even touching on the greater compliance requirements recently introduced.”

In the midst of all this, insurance brokers need to deliver the best result for clients with the added pressure of knowing that if miracles aren’t performed their clients’ business may not continue to trade.

Pruscino added that intermediaries have needed to be creative in restructuring their clients’ programs to address the ever-changing lockdown implications, and because of the constriction of certain covers in the market, “We may need to work with other brokers that have a specialised facility in order to deliver a solution to our clients, even if means they need to utilise another broker for that class of insurance.”

As lockdowns drag on and insurance brokers are regularly supporting clients who are facing tough times which can be emotionally and mentally taxing, Pruscino further added that role we need to be particularly mindful of the fact that many brokers themselves might be struggling. She said, “In any one team we can have brokers that are living on their own in lockdown, through to those that have young children that are in and out of childcare, to those that are working and trying to home school children. Regardless of the situation all of these brokers are speaking with clients daily that sometimes are living week by week to keep their business afloat. Brokers become their sounding board and sometimes without ill intention the recipient of their frustration.”

“It is imperative that brokers understand that it’s not them, but simply the circumstances that we are operating in. I tell my team when it gets to that tough point (and it happens regularly) log off, get outside, walk in your backyard, put on some music, chill, meditate, take the day off, whatever is needed to reset your mind, and have another run at it with a fresh approach. I also remind them to be kind to themselves because if they’re not in the right frame of mind then it helps no one.”

She concluded that working through COVID-19 has meant that interactions with clients and insurer partners have moved to a more personal level, “We have let each other into our homes via online meeting platforms and our personal lives be it our children, pets, partners etcetera.  A strong bond has been developed between all parties as we are experiencing this together and almost all conversations are opened with asking how the other people on the call are from a personal perspective. Our professional interactions have blended into personal interactions and I believe that brokers will come through COVID-19 with stronger relationships with their clients and underwriting partners.”