ING, Atlanta, has introduced a Spanish-language option for customers calling into its service centers for its U.S. Insurance division. Customers with individual life insurance and group life, group disability, and other workplace-based insurance policies will have an option to speak to dedicated bilingual call center representatives who can service their account in either Spanish or English.

“This is another step in our efforts to meet the needs of the rapidly growing U.S. Hispanic population,” said Catherine Smith, CEO of U.S. Insurance for ING. “The Hispanic market in the United States is diverse in terms of acculturation, language preference and country of origin. To serve it effectively, you need more than just in-language brochures. You need distribution and servicing representatives that understand the different cultures of these customers, and of course, speak their language.”

According to research conducted by the industry group LIMRA International, the importance of in-language representation among both Spanish-dominant and bilingual Hispanics was very high, with 94% of Spanish-dominant and 75% of bilingual respondents feeling it was important to have a Spanish-speaking representative to discuss their insurance needs. The same report, published in 2007 and titled “Targeting the U.S. Hispanic Market,” said that regardless of their language use, Hispanics want bilingual printed material for financial products in order to better understand the products and to share the materials with family and friends.

“For customers more comfortable conducting business in Spanish, ING can help them from sale to service,” said X. Rick Niu, ING U.S. Insurance’s chief growth officer. “We’ve expanded our distribution capability and our Spanish-language consumer information. We’ve been involved in supporting the Hispanic communities throughout the U.S., and now we’re making it easier for many of these customers to handle routine policy matters. As a leader in this industry, we feel it is important that companies like ING not only sell insurance products, but provide customers with a high level of service as well.”

The Spanish option can be selected during ING’s normal call center hours, with customers dialling the toll-free number appropriate for their policy.