Insurance giant IAG has announced a proposal to close its Whanganui AMI store along with 52 others around New Zealand.
IAG executive general manager Kevin Hughes said the review reflects growing customer expectations for digital services.
"Covid-19 has accelerated many trends within the insurance industry and in the broader operating environment," Hughes said.
"For several years we've seen a decline in visits to our retail stores as customers increasingly look to engage with us over the phone, via email and through our online platforms and digital channels."
Cara Mygind, external communications manager for IAG, said consultation with affected employees has begun and the company is seeking customer input.
"It is a consultation at this stage and we want to hear from customers because we know that digital communications don't suit everyone," she said.
"We want to look at a whole range of options and make sure the consultation is thorough."
Born in Whanganui herself, Mygind said she knows how important it is to have solid relationships with customers.
"I know that staff at the Whanganui store were concerned about one of their regular customers during Covid.
"She would always drop by each week to have a chat and they knew she would be missing her visits."
Mygind said the temporary specialist customer care team established in response to Covid-19 will become a permanent service to support vulnerable customers as well as those who may be experiencing financial hardship.
Despite the assurances First Union, which represents finance workers, has described the proposal as irresponsible and short-sighted, warning that big companies like AMI are using the Covid-19 crisis to justify "unpalatable" business decisions that will harm workers and local communities.
"AMI is using Covid as an excuse to make self-interested business decisions that will make workers and communities around New Zealand worse off - we have to call it what it is," national organiser Callum Francis said.
"Our worry now is that others in the finance industry - banks as well as insurers - are already mulling similar proposals and will follow suit in an exodus from the regions that could leave thousands jobless."
Four staff currently work at the AMI branch in Whanganui.
Based in New Zealand, the IAG insurance company is a subsidiary of Insurance Australia Group with its head office in Auckland.
IAG has 10 subsidiaries in New Zealand including State Insurance which has one remaining branch also marked for closure as part of the review.
To find out more call 0800 100 200 to speak to an AMI consultant or visit