Insurers Need To Upgrade Their Employees’ Writing Skills
Forget about good grammar and the other niceties of English. The insurance profession has a vested interest in helping its employees master writing skills that go way beyond the many organization, phrasing and format issues that need to be addressed in a writing training course.
Clear, concise writing is helpful to individuals and to whole departments for many reasons. Here are five real-world concerns that link the importance of effective writing skills training to the vital and more global needs of insurance companies, especially claims and underwriting departments:
Scarcity of Good People. In the decade ahead, there will be an increase in the need for claims adjusters and examiners. While insurance companies in cities such as Atlanta, New York or Seattle might be able to find a pool of new adjusters, there are many locations that will have to do a lot of searching to find the right people.
Will the future adjusters, examiners and underwriters be skilled writers? They will certainly spend about 40% of their time writing log notes, e-mail and letters to claimants, attorneys and physicians–not to mention letters to brokers, agents, employers and hospitals.
If you pay adjusters $40,000 per year and almost half their time is spent writing, you may be losing lots of productivity unless you start rolling out some writing help.
People Bring Baggage. Even if you find some terrific talent out there, you need to quickly bring those people into your corporate culture. Every human being carries a lifetime of notions about writing, and these are deeply embedded in the brain.
What to do with this mix of styles? Some form of writing skills training can help put everyone “on the same page” by answering questions, fostering consistency and forcing management to take a good hard look at those form letters that have been kicking around for years.
At one seminar I taught, there was a split of opinion over the use of “I” and “we” in denial letters. Half the group had been taught to use “we” when denying a claim; the other half argued that “I” was more honest since the signer of the letter was doing the denying.
Not all writing training is equal, however. Sending an adjuster to a generic business writing class at a local college may help a bit, but theres no substitute for a type of interactive training in which a group of underwriters or adjusters gets a consistent message at the same moment in each others presence.
When a writing instructor answers a question for one person, that instructor should also be guiding everyone in the class to view the topic with consistency (for example, how to write a “Re” line or the organizational structure of a denial letter).