LanguageLine Blog

Three Reasons Insurance Companies Need a Single, Comprehensive Interpreting Agency

Written by Greg Marshall | March 6, 2018

Insurance is a complex and sensitive industry. Policyholders are seeking to protect the things and people that matter most. Each has several points of contact with an agency or company, from quoting to enrolling to filing a claim to updating coverages.

Communicating the details of an insurance plan or a claim can be difficult enough in English, but when the policyholder speaks another language, the conversation can become even more challenging.

Insurance companies often have bilingual agents or contact center employees to handle interactions with policyholders or potential customers in a handful of languages. But many are missing a significant opportunity by not completely fulfilling the needs of people who speak other fast-growing languages in the United States. Instead of having a long-term partnership with a single interpreting agency, they use various vendors for different languages and types of services. This can lead to inconsistency, confusion and frustration for customers, plus inefficiency for employees.

Here are three good reasons why insurance companies should hire not only an interpreting agency for handling phone calls, but one that offers comprehensive language services.

1. Language Needs Are Growing ... And Becoming More Diverse

Of the more than 320 million people in the United States, about 62 million (or one in five) speak another language at home, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Within that group, about 25 million say they speak English “less than very well.”

As globalization and immigration continue to diversify the U.S. population, America’s language needs are becoming more diverse, too.

These figures by the 2012-2016 American Community Survey show the breakdown of the top 10 most common languages in the United States:

  • Spanish (16.3 million speakers)
  • Chinese (1.8 million)
  • Vietnamese (853,000)
  • Korean (597,000)
  • Tagalog (536,000)
  • Arabic (406,000)
  • Russian (403,000)
  • Haitian (331,000)
  • Portuguese (252,000)
  • French (250,000)

Finding a bilingual employee or staff interpreter in some of these languages isn’t always easy. By having an interpreting agency on standby, call center representatives can have access to quality phone interpreting at a moment’s notice. Having the ability to communicate proficiently in many languages opens the door to reaching new customers.

2. Customers Are More Likely To Shop Around For Insurance

The availability of information online has made customers more empowered and more likely to shop around. It’s easier than ever for them to read reviews, compare quotes online, and tell their social network when they have a good (or bad) experience with a brand.

A recent study by J.D. Power & Associates found that, in an age where customers are more influenced by price quotes, the key performance indicator that has the greatest influence on customer satisfaction is ensuring customers completely understand their coverage. Communication is a critical part of this.

Insurance companies can differentiate themselves by offering high-quality, consistent service to customers in the language that’s most comfortable for them. If they are able to speak with the insurance employee with the help of qualified interpreters in their preferred language, customers will be more likely to have a positive experience and recommend the insurance company to a friend or family member.

3. Insurance Has Multiple Customer Touchpoints

Phone interpreting may be sufficient for handling billing questions, but insurance agencies serve customers in a variety of other ways. For instance:

  • When a customer files a claim, the claims adjuster may need an onsite interpreter to accompany him as he assesses the damage, ensuring the policyholder can answer questions in his own language.
  • If an onsite interpreter is not available, the adjuster can connect with an interpreter via a tablet or smartphone using video remote interpreting (VRI). Video can also help agents communicate with customers who need interpreting in American Sign Language. This service is available to agents in their offices, as well as for claims adjusters in the field.
  • Insurance companies may also need to use document translation services to translate important policy information into the policyholder’s own language.
  • Insurance adjusters and agents may use both language translation and interpretation services to stay in contact with the policyholder over the phone or via email until a settlement is reached.

The Value of a Single Interpreting Agency

If your insurance company works consistently with one interpreting agency, that agency can create a team of linguists and project managers who are familiar not only with the insurance industry but with your company specifically. The interpreting agency staff can then do their work knowledgeably and effectively, and your customers can trust that they are being assisted by a well-qualified language professional who understands them and the insurance business.

Having a single, comprehensive interpreting agency to handle all your language service needs also makes life easier on your agents, call-center workers, claims adjusters, and everyone else in your organization. By taking the guesswork out of finding an interpreter or translator, you can free up your staff to focus on their core functions and process policy updates and claims more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Professional language services can enhance your policyholders’ customer experience at every touchpoint. LanguageLine has more than 35 years of experience in language services and extensive experience in the insurance industry, serving every one of the top 10 insurance companies in the U.S. We provide interpretation in 240 languages, including American Sign Language.

Contact LanguageLine Solutions today to learn more about how we can help reach new audiences, improve customer satisfaction and be more efficient.