A culture of plain language at a large insurance company

No longer do consumers tolerate ‘small print’ and unnecessary jargon. Increasingly, these are viewed as wilful barriers to the truth – as WMDs (Words of Mass Deception). Organisations that continue to use them risk losing the trust of their stakeholders.

The problem

The long-term insurance industry has so much jargon and complexity that few can understand its documents. However, faced with unsatisfactory litigation, decreasing levels of trust in the industry, and plain-language regulations, one company decided to tackle this in a big way – and commit to producing its documents in plain language.

However, given the scale of the project and the cost-cutting initiatives so common in the industry, how would this be possible?

The solution

Simplified helped this company to organise a comprehensive in-house programme in plain language:

  • We rewrote both insurance and investment documents
  • We trained over 20 courses in plain language. Delegates included the legal department, product development, and customer service staff
  • We trained eight internal trainers who are now training the Simplified course in-house, with our ongoing support. So far, the company has trained 1000 staff members in plain language
  • We developed an Intranet site that includes information about plain language, exercises for practice, and even online games so that staff can have fun while learning the principles
  • We developed an assessment framework that the Quality Assurance Department and Internal Audit Department could use to monitor the documents
  • We put together an employee evaluation programme, including ongoing reviews and formal exams in plain language

The results

The company has a critical mass of employees who are skilled in plain language, and has many important documents already published in plain language. It is more determined than ever to incorporate plain language into all their customer communications.