Thursday, October 6th, 2022

Why do insurers overcomplicate their language?


In insurance coverage, LANGUAGE is a device for differentiation. Coverage language could make one insurer stand out from the following. I perceive that. In reality, that’s what I attempt to do each single day – make my articles stand out (by way of my alternative of language) from the following.

What I don’t perceive is the business’s insistence on utilizing totally different phrases to confer with the identical factor. Too typically, insurance coverage professionals are informed (I consider by their authorized departments) to make use of particular language and toe the occasion line. How these firms got here up with these phrases is (I consider) subjective – and that’s actually not what we want in a fancy business like insurance coverage.

The time period ‘HARD MARKET’ is an ideal instance of this.

The Worldwide Danger Administration and Insurance coverage society (IRMI) defines a tough market as: “The upswing in a market cycle, when premiums improve and capability for many forms of insurance coverage decreases. This may be attributable to plenty of components, together with falling funding returns for insurers, will increase in frequency or severity of losses, and regulatory intervention deemed to be in opposition to the pursuits of insurers.”

Learn extra: All eyes on cyber: The movie star of business insurance coverage

Some insurance coverage professionals are adamant that the industrial insurance coverage market has been ‘HARD’ for the previous two years. Nonetheless, some are avoiding the phrase ‘HARD’, as a substitute choosing ‘TIGHT’ and even ‘FIRM’.

What’s the distinction? Why the language differentiation? How can the business justify utilizing totally different phrases to explain the identical market? Just about all industrial insurers have felt the circumstances specified by the IRMI’s definition of a tough market. So, why beat across the bush? Name the market what it’s.

To fulfill my nerdy language intrigue, I made a decision to search for Collins Dictionary definitions of the three phrases ‘HARD’, ‘TIGHT’, and ‘FIRM’:

HARD (adj): One thing that’s onerous may be very troublesome to do or cope with.

Synonyms: troublesome, concerned, advanced, difficult

TIGHT (adj): Tight controls or guidelines are very strict.

Synonyms: strict, stringent, extreme, powerful 

FIRM (adj): If a worth, worth, or forex is agency, it’s not lowering in worth or quantity.

Synonyms: hardness, resistance, density, rigidity 

What involves thoughts is the phrase: ‘Identical, similar, however totally different’. Every phrase has a distinct that means, however the overarching themes are ‘CHALLENGING’, ‘STRICT’, ‘COMPEX’, and ‘RIGID’, that are additionally phrases used to explain the industrial insurance coverage market lately.

To complicate issues, some firms want to not use any of the above phrases, and so they want to make use of the time period ‘TRANSITIONING MARKET’ – referring to the corrective actions and modifications the market is making in response to the circumstances described within the IRMI’s definition of a tough market.

Learn extra: Brokers – underwriters: You scratch my again, I am going to scratch yours

I’ve a singular perception into this linguistic battleground. I interview all types of firms within the business, from insurers to brokers and companies, MGA/MGUs, reinsurers, insurtechs, regulation corporations, and consultancies – and so they all have their ‘most popular’ phrases, which I then need to relay (particularly when quoting). However once more, these are totally different phrases for a similar factor.

The newest phrase dispute I’ve observed revolves across the altering market circumstances. By means of 2022, the industrial insurance coverage market has improved throughout many traces (with just a few exceptions, like cyber insurance coverage). To explain this, some insurers are utilizing the phrase ‘MODERATING’, whereas others are utilizing ‘STABILIZING’. Once more, not a whole lot of distinction there.

Why can’t the insurers simply choose one time period and roll with it? I’m certain that extra readability and consistency would go down properly with brokers and brokers – who’re at present having to demystify insurers’ language with purchasers. Additionally, I believe it’s a secure wager that purchasers don’t care if you happen to use ‘HARD’, ‘TIGHT’ or ‘FIRM’. They simply wish to perceive why their premiums have gone up or why their protection has modified – and so they need that clarification in plain, easy language.

In making an attempt to distinguish themselves by way of phrases, insurers are (maybe inadvertently) additional complicating this already advanced business. Get actual everybody. Whether or not you say ‘TOMAYTO’ or ‘TOMAHTO’ – it’s nonetheless merely TOMATO.



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