The Role of Translation in the Insurance Industry

Much has changed in the insurance business since 1752 when Benjamin Franklin helped launch the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire, the first property insurance company in America.

Ben Franklin reading papers image
Portrait of Benjamin Franklin by David Martin (1737-1797) Library of Congress

One of the changes from those early colonial days is the number of languages spoken by insurance customers. Today our country is more of a “melting pot” than ever, so successful insurance providers, carriers and agents must cater to clients of many different nationalities, languages, cultures and financial needs. Even Franklin must have appreciated the important role of translation in the insurance industry — afterall, he taught himself to speak five different languages.
While some companies within the insurance industry are pro-active about communicating their services in foreign languages, many have not yet taken advantage of the opportunities made available by today’s shifting demographics, technology and consumer preferences. Here are some reasons why the insurance industry should be integrating translation and interpreting services into their business model:
•  New state and federal legislation, like theimage of patient filling out form Affordable Care Act, is bringing more Limited English Proficient (LEP) clients into the insurance world. Publishing documents, contracts and policies in the native language of these new customers will help establish trust, confidence and loyalty — all important ingredients to a long and fruitful relationship.
•  Competition is stiff in the insurance industry. Those destined to rise above the pack are the innovators who adapt quickly to cultural changes, economic conditions and consumer demand. Nearly 41 million U.S. residents were born outside of our country and about 30 percent do not speak English well. Speaking these customers’ language creates a strategic competitive advantage in a highly contested marketplace.
•  Technology has made it convenient for customers of any language to go online and shop for the best insurance rates and services. Insurance companies that take advantage of the vast global market are the ones translating their websites and other online product information into foreign languages.
•  A slow economy drives all market sectors to seek new customers, and the insurance industry is no different. As we’ve noted, the growing number of LEP residents offers a great business opportunity. The key is to engage in more direct customer dialogue, but in a clear and credible manner. Using quality translation and interpreting services guarantees that these new customer connections are accurate and genuine.
•  Think about all of the important insurance-related documents that can be translated in multiple languages: Insurance Policies, Accident Reports, Pension Plans, Insurance translators proofing documentsRegulations, Recorded & Written Statements, Insurance Booklets, Summary of Benefits (SOBs), Operating Processes, Wellness Information, Patient Medical Records, HIPPA Documents, Denial Letters, Claims, Appeals, Grievances, Benefit Summaries, Benefit Packages, Explanation of Benefits (EOBs), Insurance Forms, Enrollment Forms, Group Policies, Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs), Annual Notice of Change (ANOC), Evidence of Coverage (EOC), Medical Bills & Transcripts, Annual Reports, Marketing Brochures & Materials, Business Cards, Flyers, PowerPoint Presentations, Sales Presentations, Websites, Videos, Newsletters, etc. If these items are translated and ready to go, there’s less likelihood of losing a potential client due to a language barrier.
In promoting the value of insurance back in the 1700s, Ben Franklin proclaimed: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Since we’re talking about generating more customers for insurance businesses today, we would respectfully amend Ben’s maxim to say that “an ounce of translation” could be the cure you’re looking for.
For information on how our professional, native-speaking translators and interpreters can help you expand your foreign language outreach, give us a call. We would be happy to assist.

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