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Metropolitan’s #WordsMatter campaign demystifies insurance jargon

22 November 2019 Metropolitan

Insurance jargon is notoriously difficult to understand. Some words, such as repudiate and annuitise, do not form part of our everyday lingo. Other words, like paid-up benefit, surrender or lapse might well conjure up images in our minds that have nothing to do with insurance.

Not understanding these words impacts how the consumer understands insurance and could impact on how they engage with, and buy insurance. The #WordsMatter campaign is about helping them understand their insurance policy document and educating them on some of the important terms that form part of the insurance process.

Metropolitan introduced its #WordsMatter initiative to form part of the insurance company’s larger campaign aimed at helping consumers understand the insurance claims process. The intention is to help policyholders access their money even faster, as we understand that they are under real pressure during their time of need.

Metropolitan Head of Marketing, Llewellyn Allen says, words are a powerful tool that can clarify and enlighten just as easily as they can cloud and confuse. “Our #WordsMatter campaign has allowed us to dissect, debate and decode the insurance jargon – specifically when it comes to claims.”

At the core of the #WordsMatter campaign is the desire to help consumers understand insurance speak by offering easy to understand language, words and phrases, where possible. The rationale is that if consumers understand the jargon, the claims process will be a lot easier.

The campaign kicked off in November when SABC 1 Zaziwa host and Metro FM talk-show host, Pearl Modiadie, hit Rosebank in Jozi armed with insurance jargon and terms, which she then tested with city dwellers.

Allen says Modiadie’s feedback after interviewing the public was eye-opening as most of the people she interviewed did not know the meaning of the words. Allen explains, “It has been made clear that we have a long way to go as an industry to reach consumers with words that they can understand.”

The second phase of the #WordsMatter campaign was a panel discussion, in Cape Town, between trailblazers such as the GoodThingsGuy journalist, Brent Lindeque, businessman and entrepreneur DJ Lloyd, and representing Metropolitan: Deidre Wolmarans, Head of Claims and company actuary, Mareli Mans.

The discussion was aimed at finding easier words where possible and capturing the moment when people began to understand what the word meant. A great example was the word ‘repudiate’. After robust conversations between panellists and the audience, alternate words included Replace (31% of online responses voted for this) while Reject fetched most votes at 34%, trailed by Deny (18%) and Abandon (17%).

The panel also came up with simpler words for Benefits, Surrender, Annuitise and Lapse, among others. Allen adds, “There are many requirements in and various regulations that require us to explain things “simply” or “in plain language”. However plain language is notoriously difficult to define, or for standards to be set or achieved.
“At Metropolitan, we put considerable effort into making our documents as simple as possible, given that we are sometimes dealing with difficult ideas. We use diagrams and pictures to illustrate concepts and we explain rather than define. Even our policy documents contain diagrams and pictures to assist with understanding. Our legal advisors undergo training in plain language writing and strive to write simply and effectively rather than obscure meaning through the use of industry jargon and legalese.

“We put substantive effort and cost into making our documents simple and easy to understand and we are continually looking for new ways to ensure our clients are can easily understand the information available.”

Allen says #WordsMatter is one of several initiatives to help Metropolitan get closer to its customers. “Our avid customer-centric focus is the reason we have been named a leading supplier of life insurance for four consecutive years by the South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SA-csi), as well as being voted top company in the long-term insurance industry for service excellence in the Ask Afrika Orange Index for two consecutive years,” he concludes.

To watch the videos:

1. Pearl’s Vox-pop interviews ahead of the panel discussion

2. 90’ video of panel discussion 

3. 60’ video of panel discussion   

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