NU Online News Service, March 30, 2004, 2:10 p.m. EST, New York – Insurance company compliance officers should think about race and ethnicity when reviewing all marketing efforts.[@@]

Speakers hammered that point home here at a recent seminar on multicultural financial services marketing that was sponsored by the Center for Business Intelligence Research, Woburn, Mass.

Company executives should consider multicultural compliance issues when recruiting agents and independent producers, choosing groups to target, soliciting business, underwriting applications and serving customers, according to Andrew Nuttney, a partner with the Research and Advisory Group, New York.

That means a company’s compliance officer needs to have a say in all marketing and field recruiting efforts, not just efforts that go after specific ethnic or racial markets, Nuttney said.

Monitoring for multicultural compliance could become even more important if Congress establishes a federal insurance regulator or a new self-regulatory system, Nuttney said.

Bruce Foudree, a Chicago attorney, said insurers should get into a pattern of documenting what they are doing in the area of compliance.

Efforts to comply with insurance department requirements are making insurers especially careful about translating contracts and marketing materials into Spanish, Foudree said.

Brian Atchinson, executive director of the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association, Washington, said insurers have to make sure Spanish brochures and contracts are translated accurately.

Seminar participants noted that insurers end up having to process more than 80% of Spanish contracts by hand, rather than processing the contracts through the usual automated systems.

The challenges of expanding multicultural marketing operations mean that insurers have to pay close attention to the operations, Atchinson said.

“We have all learned a brand and a reputation can go negative,” Atchinson said.

Promoting clear communications and following up with customers to make sure that they are satisfied can help protect a company’s reputation, Atchinson said.