This year has highlighted the importance of funeral directors, not only as leaders in their communities but also as a vital network of often overlooked key workers during a national and global crisis. From natural disasters to mass tragedies, funeral directors are on the front lines helping families navigate uncharted territory – it is no different with COVID-19.
Since the start of the pandemic, funeral directors have proven how industrious they are as unequivocal key workers. The pandemic has not only influenced how families are able to memorialise a loved one, but it has also led to drastic changes in the way things are done within the funeral directing industry. In this article, we will explore the various ways in which funeral directors have adapted their working practices in order to meet the challenges of the pandemic.
The Digital Influence
While the impact of COVID-19 has been both unprecedented and unpredictable, the shift towards digital alternatives can be seen across all industries – including funeral directing. COVID-19 restrictions have made it difficult - and in many cases impossible - for families to gather and grieve. But these rules have highlighted the ability of funeral homes to adapt quickly and efficiently, whilst maintaining a personal and caring approach.
More funeral homes have started offering live streaming options to compensate for the absence of physical services due to social distancing restrictions. Others have turned to using electronic forms instead of physical forms to gather data. In one way or another, the industry has learnt to adjust to the crisis by shifting to a digital first approach.
As the industry now relies on technological support to continue with their work, we would highly recommend funeral directors invest in Cyber Insurance. Having Cyber cover in place would mean that you and your business would be safeguarded in the event of sensitive customer data being hacked or leaked. It also goes a long way in reducing the financial impact of a cyber-attack.
As well as taking out a Cyber Insurance policy there are other measures you can put in place to help reduce your risks. These include the following:
- Encouraging and supporting employees with training so they can identify cyber threats and how to respond
- Backing up your data regularly and storing it in more than one offsite location
- If you are using an external hard drive – do not leave your backup connected to your device when not in use
- Keeping portable devices safe, e.g. use PIN/Password protection/fingerprint/face recognition
- Keeping device software updated, avoiding connection to public hotspots and using 3G/4G or VPNs instead
- Replace any devices no longer supported by manufacturers
- Protecting data using strong passwords and encryption - avoid using predictable passwords, provide secure storage for passwords
Introduction of Vehicle Hygiene Screens
In response to government social distancing restrictions, many funeral directors have installed hygiene screens in their limousines to help stop the spread of infection between drivers and bereaved families.
These Vehicle Hygiene Screens (VHS) were pioneered by Wilcox Limousines as a way for funeral directors to combat the transmission of COVID-19. Thanks to this initiative borne out of close cooperation with various funeral directors, mourners could now join the procession. The added protection created much reassurance by placing a barrier between drivers and families.
Jade Wilcox - Webb, Managing Director of Wilcox Limousines said, “We’re delighted the Vehicle Hygiene Screens have helped so many Funeral Directors across the country get their limousines back on the road, ensuring families are given the opportunity to travel together as one unit and allowing them to have the dignified send off for their loved ones once again.”
Here at SEIB, we are receiving numerous calls in relation to the fitting of hygiene screens. We are pleased to confirm that these are acceptable under our bespoke Funeral Directors’ Motor policy, and we do not need to be notified about them, providing they meet the following criteria:
- Screens are fitted professionally
- Screens do not impede the driver or compromise the safety of the vehicle or occupants
Increased Stock Levels
Many funeral directors across the country have been proactive about how to best manage their inventory and supply chain. Funeral firms are currently replenishing their stock so that they are well prepared during the second peak and are reappraising their approach to stock control of key items. Funeral director suppliers and distributors have now been forced to make fast decisions to meet rapidly fluctuating demand in a “new normal” that’s anything but predictable. Plant operations and supply chains have been severely impacted, and this may continue for some time.
The stock at your business premises should be protected against physical loss or damage caused by events such as fire, storm, flood and theft.
At SEIB we’re able to accommodate for the increase in stock values within your business. If during your policy period you wish to increase your sum insured for stock, then this can be easily arranged in return for a pro-rata additional premium. Our Business Premises Insurance policy for funeral directors provides blanket limits per premises of £1,000,000 for buildings, £500,000 for contents, and £50,000 for stock. Cover for higher values can also be arranged.
Blanket limits are used as a safety net method. They allow for margins of error when evaluating your sums insured and protect you should you inadvertently underinsure. Please note a standard commercial policy will generally apply Average (this means it will only pay a percentage of any claim proportionate to the premium you actually paid), and you could be out of pocket if your declared figures are incorrect.
SEIB’s experience with the funeral directing industry goes back over 40 years and we have recently been described by a client as a “funeral director’s best friend”. We know that all funeral directors have put their absolute all into meeting the challenges of the pandemic, and we want you to know that we are here to support you if you would like to find out more about our Cyber, Funeral Directors’ Motor, or Business Premises insurance policies. To get in touch please call us on 0345 450 0648 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.