20 Aug COVID-19 PANDEMIC RESPONSE
Dear Valued Clients:
UPDATE: December 2020
As we wrap up 2020 and look forward to 2021, Lee & Mason wanted to provide an update to our valuable customers. Just like you, our commitment remains on the health and safety of our employees and their families. While cases of COVID-19 increase nationwide, we are encouraged by the vaccines now being distributed as a significant first step back to normal.
In 2021, we will remain committed to our “Return to the Office” plan that was developed in May and has continued to evolve throughout the past six months. Every employee at Lee & Mason has pledged to abide by the health and safety guidelines, highlighted below:
- Importance of mandatory daily health screening for all employees and anyone that enters the offices
- Proper care and replacement of Personal Protective Equipment such as masks and gloves
- Continuing to abide by social distancing rules, avoiding confined spaces and social gatherings both in and out of the office
- Proper hand hygiene
- Elimination where possible of shared items
- Daily and consistent disinfecting and cleaning of the offices and items that require interaction
- Updated signage throughout the offices and continued use of technology as an alternative to in-person meetings
- Vendor requirements ensuring contactless pickup and delivery of mail and packages
- Protocol regarding sick employees and potential exposure
- Updates on new symptoms that the CDC and local health departments have reported as an indication of possible exposure
Lee & Mason is grateful for the determination of our team to make the remote work approach consistently more productive throughout the last nine months. Thanks to their effort and our exposure response plan, Lee & Mason is fully capable of addressing potential outbreaks and our ability to pivot back to a remote work environment was key in making the recent snowstorm a non-event for our Northville and Manassas locations.
Throughout all of this and thanks to our amazing staff, Lee & Mason has remained focused on providing excellent support for our collateral protection solutions and thousands of valuable customers nationwide. We know that you are facing similar challenges and want to ensure one less thing to worry about heading into 2021.
We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season!
UPDATE: August 20, 2020
As summer begins to wind down, Lee & Mason wanted to update you regarding our progress over the past five months and how we will approach the rest of 2020. While these plans change frequently as necessary, we showed an ability to pivot quickly in March, ensuring safety for our employees without sacrificing service to those who rely on Lee & Mason to address their insurance needs.
Operationally, Lee & Mason’s processes have largely resumed our pre-COVID approach while enhanced by seasoned remote workflows. With operational continuity established, the focus shifted to in-person workflow in the COVID-19 environment;
- In May, we formulated a ‘Return to the Office’ plan that drew from multiple sources. Using CDC and state-specific guidelines, we drafted solutions that would enable us to bring people back to our three key offices (Northville, Manassas and Louisville) successfully and maintain a healthy environment moving forward.
- Starting in June, Lee & Mason began implementing physical changes to ensure a safe work environment in these locations;
- Increased air filtration
- Addition of plexiglass/shields in certain areas
- Increased and improved office sanitization
- Addition of multiple disinfectant stations at each location
Concurrently, we developed plans to address possible outbreaks and vacation return protocols.
- By July, we welcomed employees back to the office selectively. Recommended health guidelines, individual schedule limitations and onsite job functionality were all taken into consideration during this process. Each employee was been provided with appropriate PPE and masks are now mandated in the office when not seated. Departmental meetings have been modified to ensure compliance with developed protocols.
- Here in August, the bulk of our staff has returned to the office. Schedules vary but in-person interactions (at least 6’ apart!) has been a blessing and key for our plans moving forward. Insurance and claim processes have been streamlined based on the remote experience and employee feedback since returning to the office.
Looking ahead, the challenge becomes local school’s decision on in-person learning and how the likelihood of virtual education impacts our team. We recognize that our clients are dealing with similar issues amongst your team and these challenges won’t go away for some time. Additionally, COVID’s impact to our economy will likely increase the need for our services from a coverage and claim standpoint. Know that Lee & Mason has spent the summer preparing with an eye towards 2021 and any needs in the interim. We appreciate your continued loyalty and encourage you to reach out with any questions or concerns.
UPDATE: MARCH 30, 2020
Based on yesterday’s decision at the federal level to extend social distancing guidelines through April 30th and ongoing state and local mandates, Lee & Mason wanted to update you on our ongoing COVID-19 response. Please see below and feel free to contact anyone here for additional information:
- While insurance is currently exempt from most orders as an essential service, Lee & Mason feels that telecommuting remains the best solution for employee safety and customer service moving forward. As of today, Monday March 30th, over 80% of our employees are working remotely. All offices remain minimally staffed to safely perform necessary functions. Making this change proactively enhanced our ability to offer continuity through all offices and product lines.
- Our IT department has made ongoing upgrades to accessibility as part of our Disaster Recovery Response, expanding bandwidth and increasing access for additional remote workers. These changes ensure compliant handling of sensitive borrower data, regardless of the logistical specifics.
- Lee & Mason’s tracking department has adapted to our clients’ current working environment and altered the communication lines used to help the process moving forward. While we have primarily moved to a telecommute model, our workflow and deliverables have been minimally affected. We are considering mild modifications with the best interests of the consumer, lender and community at large in mind and will provide updates to customers as these are implemented. Our goal (as always) remains to balance coverage needs with minimal disruption for all in the process.
- We are in ongoing discussions with all of our ‘A’ rated carrier partners regarding COVID-19’s impact on our programs in general but specifically tracking/placement processes as well as claim settlement procedures. Lee & Mason is at the forefront of these discussions within the industry, pushing for clarity and direction where possible.
- At the same time, we are monitoring all state Departments of Insurance for orders that may impact our scope of service.
Never has it been more challenging to balance coverage and compliance needs with consumer protection and do so with minimal interruption for the lender. At the same time, Lee & Mason is committed to making collateral protection insurance one less thing for our clients to worry about as you focus on your own employee families. Thank you again for your loyalty and please don’t hesitate to reach out.
PREVIOUS ANNOUNCEMENT: MARCH 16, 2020
Lee & Mason wanted to involve you in our ongoing response to COVID-19 and how Coronavirus will impact our company moving forward. Much like your institution, we’ve been closely monitoring the news and updates from CDC, WHO, federal, state and local authorities to ensure Lee & Mason provides the safest environment for our work family. Thankfully, based on proactive planning, we are confident that our team can continue providing the timely, quality service that you have come to expect from Lee & Mason. We are sharing to give you a feel for what’s been done so far and what to expect moving forward:
- In the past few weeks, increased cleaning processes were implemented by both the company and employees with hand sanitization stations set up throughout each office. Employees who displayed symptoms or have family members ill were encouraged not to report to work (this remains our policy per CDC recommendation).
- At the same time, Lee & Mason has been testing and fine-tuning our Pandemic Response Plan to ensure both a safe work environment for employees and business continuity for our clients.
- Last week, business travel was suspended to ensure the safety of our customers, prospects and marketing team while also providing additional office support where necessary. Our sales team remains available as always to address any coverage, compliance or claims questions your institution may have and we encourage you to reach out to them as always.
- At this point, Lee & Mason’s offices remain open with staff available during normal business hours. This staff will continue to practice increased cleaning protocols as well as newly implemented social distancing practices.
- Effective Monday, March 16th, we have empowered certain employees to temporarily work from home based on management’s direction. Telecommuting was already part of Lee & Mason’s business model and as such, we do not anticipate any disruptions in service.
- At this time, this is a regionally-based decision that will continue to evolve based on COVID-19’s local impact and health authority recommendations. Again, all employees remain available as usual and as needed.
- Throughout this evolving process, we remain committed to providing service that is compliant with the standards established by our SSAE16/SOC 2 certification.
While no one can predict COVID-19’s impact in the coming days and weeks, Lee & Mason is committed to maintaining the service standard you’ve come to expect. We cannot thank you enough for your valuable business and look forward to helping as usual through these uncertain times.
Management Team of Lee & Mason Financial Services, Inc.
As always we stand ready to serve your consumer loan and mortgage lending insurance needs…