SHARON, Pa. – The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the first one experienced by Gilbert’s Risk Solutions, which has been in business since 1854, says President Lew Kachulis.
“The agency has been through several wars and the Depression, too,” he says. “We’re proud that the nature of our business means that we can help our neighbors weather tough times like these. That’s what we’re all about.”
Still, the pandemic took its toll on some of the Sharon, Pa.-based agency’s 3,000-plus clients.
“Some smaller employers went out of business. Some Main Street business sectors were hit hard with closures,” Kachulis says.
Gilbert’s mission, however, came to the forefront as more clients sought to cut expenses and find savings or alternative insurance coverages without increasing risk exposures.
Agents helped customers to assess coverage by requoting and shopping policies and worked with insurance companies to get auto insurance premium refunds based on pandemic-related use reductions.
While Gilbert’s insurance business was flat for the year, launching Kismet PEO was a bright spot, Kachulis says.
Kismet, a professional employer organization, offers outsourced services such as human resources, payroll, employee benefits and business insurance. The Kismet division added nine clients who saw value in offering benefits typically reserved for big companies.
Gilbert’s maintained full services by working remotely, using web-based service technologies. Weekly online meetings and daily huddles kept morale up, Kachulis says.
A chaplain from Corporate Chaplains of America reached out to employees frequently for well-being checks and to offer spiritual, psychological and practical assistance.
Kachulis says the first half of 2021 could be difficult for some clients, particularly those in the retail and hospitality industries. But he anticipates a better business climate as more people get vaccinated.