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What are virtual consultations in safety and risk management?

JUL. 01, 2021

construction worker wearing a yellow safety vest and a white helmet on a walkie talkieRegardless of their industry or the size of their operations, businesses of all kinds have unique risks that need to be proactively managed. One common tactic a business can use to manage risk is to complete a safety and risk management consultation — one that’s conducted with a loss control professional. Digital transformation is helping drive this service to a virtual application, and insurance carriers are meeting the customers where they are.

While virtual technology solutions are not new, their importance has seen a marked increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital solutions and virtual interactions are quickly becoming commonplace and offering a unique solution for businesses. Because virtual consultations are conducted remotely, businesses don’t have to worry about how an on-site visit from an outside expert could impact employee safety or their COVID-19 protocols. This article provides an overview of virtual risk management site surveys and consultations, highlighting how they can benefit businesses in this time of digital transformation.

How do virtual risk management consultations work?

Using smartphones, tablets, desktop applications and similar technology, loss control experts can conduct virtual consultations from a remote location. Through these consultations, experts can review a business’s operations and formal programs, helping them identify potential risks and providing them solutions they can use to keep their business running smoothly.

The process is simple and can be completed in a few steps.

    1. The business downloads a secure application and enters a private confirmation code. This connects the phone or tablet and leverages the video and audio capabilities of the mobile device.
    2. The loss control associate will remotely walk around with the contact for a virtual tour of the operation.
    3. The loss control associate can take photos and videos in real time for a seamless interaction.

Benefits of virtual consultations for businesses

Beyond providing a continuity response to the pandemic, virtual site consultations have the following benefits:

1. Connect businesses with risk management experts in real time

Virtual consultations provide businesses with quick, consultative advice, connecting them to risk management expertise in real time. Not only does this streamline the entire process, but it also provides businesses with the opportunity to focus on problematic areas and receive tailored risk management guidance in a virtual format.

What is real-time risk management? It means during a virtual survey, businesses could ask the loss control experts to examine their fall protection protocols for a specific application on a job site. The expert could virtually observe areas where employees are working from heights and discuss solutions to mitigate the hazard for that unique condition.

2. Provide flexibility of remote consultations

Virtual consultations allow loss control experts to meet their clients where they are. Because these consultations are done remotely, they provide flexibility that businesses may not otherwise have had through on-site methods. Virtual site surveys can be conducted anywhere and at any time, as long as the location has an internet connection. Geographical limitations are no longer a factor with virtual consultations, as loss control experts can provide advice from their home office anywhere in the country. Experts can review multiple sites in a matter of hours. In the past, businesses would have to factor in travel time if they wanted several locations visited on the same day. In many cases, the time it takes experts to travel to a location is longer than the actual consultation itself. Effectively, virtual consultations provide businesses a continued level of service with a focused digital format.

3. Cause minimal disruptions to a business’s daily operations

Virtual consultations allow businesses to get real-time risk management advice without significant interruptions in their daily operations. Also, because virtual consultations don’t introduce new people to the work area, businesses won’t have to be concerned about increased COVID-19 exposures.

How insureds can prepare for virtual consultations

While virtual consultations provide businesses with quick and easy access to loss control professionals, organizations need to do some upfront work if they want to ensure a productive interaction.

For one, organizations should ensure that they have strong connectivity capabilities during the survey. Similarly, virtual consultations rely on the use of smartphones or tablets. Businesses may need to recruit a tech-savvy individual who can help troubleshoot video, audio or connection issues that may arise during the consultation.

Furthermore, businesses will want to have a knowledgeable representative on the call who can answer operation-specific questions regarding existing safety practices, property or job site details, and previous incidents or near misses.

For loss control consultants, much of their prep work is focused on the history of the business. Are there notable trends in the business’s previous loss history? What exposures are common in their industry? What controls are in place to help manage those exposures? Being prepared with this kind of information allows for a focused consultation and ensures that essential topics are covered in the allotted time.