COVID-19 Updated Response
The spring edition of Catholic Forester was published last week and will soon arrive in your mailbox. In fact, it is already posted on this website and you may have read it by now. As has been custom for previous years, the spring edition features our Annual Report, an outlook statement, and our recent financial performance. Certainly, much has changed since the magazine went to print. We have all been impacted in some form or another by COVID-19. Not only has daily life been significantly altered, most (if not all) businesses have felt the impact as well. With all that has happened the last couple of weeks, we'd like to update you on Catholic Order of Foresters (COF) and share a few thoughts on our comments in the spring edition.
Today’s COVID-19 crisis is putting financial and social foundations to the test across our membership. Just in the last two weeks, we have seen historic swings in the U.S. stock market. Dramatic economic results and forecasts we have only read about in history books are now commonly reported on a daily basis in the news. It’s a disruption in everyday life that many of our younger members have never experienced. Surely, this is unlike anything we could have imagined.
But in 1883, our founders had a vision of establishing a way of supporting Catholic families who were facing dire circumstances. Since that initial meeting of 42 individuals who together made a difference for their families and community, COF has grown to over 100,000 members with almost $4 billion of life insurance in force and over $1.2 billion in assets. These figures are in our 2019 Annual Report (spring 2020 magazine), and they hold true today.
COF has felt the impact of COVID-19 but remains financially strong and positioned to uphold the promises the life insurance and annuity policies provide. We are classified as an essential business under Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s shelter-in-place order and, most likely, all of the states in which similar orders have been issued. Our Home Office is operating with a reduced staff, but many on our team are working remotely from their homes. The Member Services Team has been able to answer calls while making sure all policy requests are answered in a timely fashion with the same personal touch they always provide. State Conventions and all fraternal activities have been suspended, but our Fraternal Outreach Team is working to reschedule these activities while they plan outreach initiatives for new challenges our communities face.
We may not know what tomorrow brings, but we want you to know COF stands ready to answer your questions and make good on the promises our policies provide. Our goal in the coming weeks is to maintain full business operations, adjust to the changing environment, and be there when you need us most.We appreciate the support we have received from many of you. Although this is a difficult time and the path forward seems less than clear, please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns you may have.
March 23, 2020
CATHOLIC ORDER OF FORESTERS: ILLINOIS SHELTER-IN-PLACE RESPONSE
NAPERVILLE, ILLINOIS, MARCH 23, 2020 - Over the last days, several states, cities, and counties have issued broad and restrictive orders to reduce the spread of COVID-19, otherwise known as the coronavirus. On Friday, March 20, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order requiring all Illinois residents to shelter-in-place. The order took effect on Saturday, March 21. Catholic Order of Foresters (COF) is exempt under the order, allowing us to maintain full operation with minimal Home Office staff. COF can provide the clause detailing this exemption. We remain fully operational with limited team members at our Home Office and other team members working remotely. Our hours remain the same Monday through Thursday (8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Central Time), with shortened Home Office hours on Friday, March 27 (8 a.m. – 12 p.m.).
Due to reduced on-site staff, please understand you may experience a longer response time to your questions and calls. When you call in, you will hear a recorded message asking you to choose the option that best relates to the reason for your call. You will be directed to our Member Services Team. These team members will do their best to answer your questions; if necessary, they will share your request with the appropriate team member, who will get back in touch with you.
All fraternal group activities, court meetings, member activities, and outreach events have been temporarily suspended. We are anticipating a May re-launch of all activities, but please understand this timeline is tentative and subject to change as conditions evolve.
At present, no COF employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
Please visit our website for policy information, service forms, and additional updates from the Home Office.
COF has withstood many challenges since it was founded 137 years ago. The Society has endured market events, pandemics, and other crises that have shaken the country. COF remains strong financially, and through our shared Catholic values and the dedication of our members, agents, and Home Office team, we continue full operation.
March 20, 2020
Our office will be closing at 12 p.m. Central Time today (March 20) and next Friday (March 27).
Today from 9:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Central Time, the Home Office is testing its remote phone capabilities. When you call in, you will hear a recorded message asking you to choose the option that best relates to the reason for your call. You will be directed to our Member Services Team. These team members will do their best to answer your questions; if necessary, they will share your request with the appropriate team member, who in turn will get back in touch with you. This practice would be implemented permanently in the event that our office must close down due to COVID-19.
You can access many of our service forms online. Please visit our Member Information page if you have any questions. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this unprecedented time!
March 19, 2020
In the wake of the nationwide COVID-19 outbreak, Catholic Order of Foresters (COF, the Society) is working with a reduced Home Office staff, and some team members are working remotely. The Society is anticipating staffing will remain limited until April 1. Even while operating within this environment, all aspects of business are functioning. Our hours remain the same Monday through Thursday (8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Central Time), and our hours are limited on Friday (8 a.m. – 12 p.m. Central Time). Remote employees are fully operational. COF is committed to preserving the health of its employees while continuing to serve its members and agents and has implemented measures to provide a safe environment in the office. At present, there have been no positive cases of COVID-19 among employees.
Please understand that due to reduced on-site staff, our response to questions may take longer than normal. We are answering phone calls personally and will do our best to answer your questions in a reasonable time.
We are closely monitoring the situation with the help of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, and we will provide updates on the status of Home Office operations as we determine next steps.
Additionally, all fraternal group activities have been suspended. We are targeting a May re-launch of all activities, but please understand that this timeline is tentative.
COF has overcome many challenges in its 137-year history. From surviving two World Wars, the 1918 influenza pandemic, the Great Depression, and numerous market events, the Society has a record of overcoming extreme crises.
COF remains committed to Catholic values and stands ready to support our members in this trying time.
March 17, 2020
We continue to monitor the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related public policy response that is causing disruption to our business and community. Our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of our Membership, our Field Representatives, and our Home Office Team.
At the very least, the situation is fluid and rapidly changing. We are creating contingency plans to operate as normal as possible for the foreseeable future. We are operating with a reduced Home Office staff in some areas and will accommodate some Team Members working remotely. We will do our best to create the least amount of disruption as possible.
From a business standpoint, we will monitor the unfolding events and provide our best to serve you as efficiently as possible. Times like these are what the insurance industry was built for. Business will continue as usual even though we may be working with a modified Home Office Team. It is our intent to answer phone calls personally, but please understand there may be a delay in us answering your call.
Lastly, I ask all of you to think about and pray for those in our communities who are on the front lines in the medical community, the retail staff working to keep the shelves stocked with necessities, the community leadership under intense pressure to make very difficult decisions, the clergy who continue to provide comfort to the infirmed and their loved ones, the public safety professionals, the wage earners (and their families) who may have their pay interrupted, and all others bearing the brunt of the fallout from the spread of this far-reaching pandemic.
Thank you and God Bless,
Greg A. Temple