Copywriter throws down plain English gauntlet to insurance industry

| August 8, 2011

My plain English insurance policy challenge

Late last week the BBC reported that the insurance industry is the worst for jargon. Some things don’t change. I worked in insurance direct marketing for many years and wore myself ragged trying to implement plain English to no avail. But I’ve always believed insurers would eventually bite the bullet and accept the fact that to gain consumer trust, they have to speak the same language.

Friday’s post about ‘likeonomics’ dovetails nicely here. With a strong marketing trend towards retro values, simpler messages, total honesty and admitting to flawed humanity, perhaps it’s high time one of the big five insurance blue chips took the plunge and put themselves at a serious competitive advantage.

Getting excited about insurance

If I still worked for an insurer I’d smell big profits in the making. I’d be biting the heels of underwriting, marketing and legal departments to force through honest, entertaining, intelligent, crystal clear, plain English communications. Right across the board. Starting with the policy wordings themselves.

I’ve always fancied re-writing an insurance policy from scratch in crystal clear language that ordinary mortals can understand without a dictionary, decades of business experience and a law Degree. It’d be good for policyholders, who could buy with confidence (if not enjoyment!) It’d be great for insurers, who currently send out piles of expensive printed gobbledegook in an attempt at transparency and clarity when a clear policy would do the trick. And, presumably, good news for industry regulators too, with fewer complaints from angry, confused policyholders.

I can’t resist. So here’s what I’m going to do. I’ve blocked out Friday next week to write a plain language travel insurance policy that holds its meaning without opening legal loopholes. I’ll put a link to it in this blog. And if anyone high enough up in insurance thinks it’s worth taking on, I’ll sell it to the highest bidder.

Update – I did my best. I struggled and toiled. But I had to give in. I worked in insurance. I know the jargon. And I still couldn’t get a grip on the exact meaning of a lot of the policy I attempted to rewrite.So what chance to policyholders themselves have?

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Category: copywriting and marketing

By Kate Goldstone - ()

Originally from Middlesbrough, I lived in Brighton for many years before moving to North Devon. I’ve had a passion for words all my life and this is my twelfth year as a freelance writer. In my spare time I draw, paint, sculpt, carve wood and rock, garden, read, write poetry and enjoy long distance hiking. I sing and play the recorder. I collect modernist paintings, vintage rugs and mid-century German art pottery. I’m a member of The Poetry Society. And I am an experienced volunteer shepherd, a ‘Lookerer’.

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