In times of economic crisis, an insurance company is the one place where the phone keeps ringing off the hook. Policy holders are often frantically reaching out to their insurers with new claims, questions about processes and to get some visibility on when they’ll receive indemnity payments. But they’re also just people like you and me, simply looking for someone to tell them that everything is going to be okay.
As a leading trade credit insurer, Euler Hermes’ role is multi-faceted. We’re not only there to protect our clients – we also ensure continued trade to stimulate the economy, sometimes by working alongside governments. We take this role very seriously and I’ve been able to see first-hand the effect our methods have on businesses and their markets.
Last year was a challenging one for most of us, but for my team it really hammered in the value of one-on-one support. As a Claims Manager at Euler Hermes’ headquarters in Paris, I’m part of a department that deals with a lot of phone calls from our policyholders. And naturally, during the first half of 2020, the number of daily calls exploded.
Euler Hermes’ clients usually call us when an invoice from one of their buyers hasn’t been paid within the 60-day period stipulated by French law. Our job is to understand the situation, get the claim assessed and determine whether or not it can be covered. We also answer general questions about fees, invoicing or indemnification. But over the last year, our clients have been calling us more often and looking for more or less the same thing: peace of mind that they’ll be able to stay in business.
Thanks to really taking the time to listen, we are able to understand their needs and adapt our processes accordingly.
The pandemic has been tough on everyone but I always try to look for the silver lining. For my department, it helped us find new ways to provide excellent service. Apart from lending a sympathetic ear at the other end of the line, we always respect our indemnity guidelines and pay on time, or even earlier than the client expects. And in the last year, we’ve managed to put in place a new service of advance indemnification for many of our clients struggling with debtors.
Since the pandemic started, we have also been collaborating closely with the French government. Last year, we joined forces with the public sector to implement CAP Relais, a premium and risk-sharing scheme between credit insurers and the state.
And in June 2020, we participated in the relaunch of the French state’s support schemes for global financial crises, CAP, CAP+ and CAP Francexport. These programs will be running until June this year, giving additional cover to insured companies. They aim to help our clients grow their business while reducing their exposure to non-payment risk.
The schemes require fulfilment of certain conditions, but basically work like this: Say our client, a tire supplier, wants to close a sale with a car manufacturer. The automobile industry has been identified as being at-risk due to the pandemic, and Euler Hermes can only cover €200,000 of the €600,000 transaction. But thanks to the CAP support scheme, our client can ask the French state to cover the rest of the €600,000. If the sale is so high-risk that Euler Hermes cannot insure it, our client can apply to the CAP + scheme, which may cover our client for up to €500,000. And if the buyer is foreign, the CAP Francexport scheme can provide top-up cover following the same guidelines.
At the end of the day, we provide a safe space to trade and give our clients confidence to grow their business. Whether by protecting them from non-payment risk or by picking up the phone to understand our clients’ needs, it all comes down to the same principle: helping businesses do business by treating every client like a human—not a number.