Is it smart to sell insurance to prospects that do not speak English? In an earlier blog, I emphasized the need for employing bi-lingual CSRs if an agency is to sell insurance to people that do not speak English. Two readers responded with some of the more thoughtful objections I have read. Both advocate not selling insurance to non-English speaking people under any circumstances because the E&O exposure is exponentially higher. Anecdotal experience suggests they may be correct.
However, certain other factors must be considered. In some states, agents must offer quotes by law, regardless of the language spoken. In other environments, for many reasons good and bad, agents really do not have a choice to not offer quotes to non-English speaking prospects. So their solution of not selling insurance to any non-English speaking person is simply not viable in many locations. In these agencies, employing a completely bi-lingual person to service these accounts is imperative. Keep in mind, bi-lingual communication mediums may be written and verbal, not just verbal. Simply not writing these people may be a viable and reasonable option in specific agencies.
These two people also expressed concern that because management did not speak other languages, they had no ability to verify their staff was communicating with the insureds correctly. Other than learning the language or employing someone to verify for you their communications are correct, or simply trusting the bi-lingual employee, no solution exists other than not writing non-English speaking people. This brings to the forefront a much bigger E&O exposure. If management does not trust a bi-lingual person to communicate with a non-English speaking person correctly, why does management trust the same person or others to communicate in English correctly? With the right tools, the language is not a factor. The documentation and the message is the same. What may be happening, what happens in many agencies, is that speaking the same language gives management a false sense of security and a non-English speaking situation may expose this insecurity. If an agency has strong procedures and documentation, the need for trust is greatly reduced. The need to monitor what someone is doing is reduced. Negative energy is replaced with positive energy. Good procedures with an audit process goes a long way to reducing E&O exposures and increasing sales regardless of language.