COVID-19 and the Insurance Industry: Why a Gender-Sensitive Response Matters

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The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, disrupted economies, and affected supply chains and business sectors across the world. Insurers have experienced natural catastrophes and viral outbreaks, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, before, but the global nature and scale of the COVID-19 crisis is especially challenging for insurers. Although the industry is likely to survive the crisis as it has others in the past, insurers need to determine how best to meet the needs of their customers, agents, and staff with products, financing,
sales, and service that are suited to the unprecedented scale of the pandemic.

The global response to the pandemic has highlighted new approaches that insurers should consider, including customercentric digital tools and other innovations that respond to stakeholders’ needs. It has also become increasingly clear that insurers need to tailor their products and processes to the differing risks and needs of men and women and commit to mitigating the extent to which this pandemic widens the gender gap.

This guidance note has been prepared to highlight insurance industry best practices on how to engage with, and support women clients and agents. In addition, it explains how women can contribute to the success of the insurance industry, and how best to engage with them during the crisis. While many of the points covered in this note apply to both genders, this note focuses on meeting the needs of women. Insurers’ responses to COVID-19 have the potential to either increase or reduce public confidence in the industry. Due to the key roles that women play in their households and communities, if insurers adopt a gender-sensitive approach, they can positively influence women’s perceptions of the industry, and increase women’s understanding and willingness to buy insurance products that improve the resilience of their families and their businesses. 

Document Information

Document Type Technical Note
Author Susan Holliday, Prapti Sherchan, Sarah Ebrahimi
Year of Publication 2020
Publisher International Finance Corporation (IFC)
Number of Pages 22
Region / Country Global /
Primary Language English (en)
Keywords Insurance, Gender, Coronavirus (COVID-19)
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