The Challenges of Multi-Cultural Clients
The Challenges of Multi-Cultural Clients09.26.2022
Dealing with the differing cultures in our communities provides great opportunities for the insurance agent, but presents a number of dangers from an E&O perspective. Insurance carrier studies have confirmed that the vast majority of claims against agents result from either a lack of communication or misunderstanding between the agent and the client. The potential liability exposure related to miscommunication is exacerbated if a language barrier exists.
The primary goal for an agent in such situations is to find a means to effectively communicate with his customer in order to understand their insurance exposures, what coverage they are requesting, and make certain that they understand both the product and the process. Just as in any other client communication, documentation is extremely important.
It is preferable that all written material be in English to avoid potential misunderstanding related to differences in dialects within a language. Many agencies doing business in ethnically diverse areas maintain multi lingual staff to assist in communicating with members of those ethnic groups prevalent in the community. In other situations the customer maybe encouraged to enlist an English speaking adult friend or relative to act as a translator to aid in ensuring that both agent and customer clearly understand the issues and answers. Non-English speakers as well as interpreters may have particular difficulty understanding terminology unique to the insurance industry and the agent must take the necessary time to explain the process, application questions and coverages, and look for any signs that either the customer or the interpreter is confused or does not understand the information being conveyed or requested.
Using an interpreter can be extremely helpful in asking those questions necessary to ascertaining the coverages required and obtaining answers to the application questions. However, the application itself should always be completed by agency staff. The customer, through the interpreter, should then be asked to review the application to ensure that the information supplied has been correctly entered. Contact information for the interpreter should be maintained in the client file to help in resolving any issues that come up during the client relationship. Always document the items discussed with the client through the interpreter.
Taking the time to implement the steps outlined above will help mitigate the potential E&O exposures and maximizing the potential benefits of establishing a multi-cultural agency.
All information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only. The sources used are presumed accurate. CalSurance Associates, Brown & Brown Program Insurance Services, Inc. and Brown & Brown, Inc. will not be liable for any errors, omissions, losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use and will not assume responsibility for any misguided information. No guarantees are implied.
Written by Joshua Wels Published September 2022