EQuotes are insufficient, excessive, or inaccurate; sounds
3. Average. While this document gets its point across, it is often careless and filled with clichés or old-fashioned phrases. It
may have lengthy sentences and paragraphs and a smattering of
grammar and punctuation issues.
E The analysis is superficial
E Errors in word choice, spacing, punctuation, and/or spelling
E The introduction and conclusion may be weak
E Miscellaneous other errors, such as inconsistent capitalization
2. Good. Basically gets the point across. May have minor
stylistic flaws, a comma error or two. May require some copy-editing.
E Clearly phrased
E Paragraphs are logical
E May have two or three stodgy phrases or clichés
E Sentences are generally concise, varied, and fluent
E Sounds personal
1. Excellent. This document is well-organized, flows well, and
has no examples of old-fashioned phrases or punctuation problems. Its sentences and paragraphs are relatively short, readable,
and arranged carefully.
E Appropriate tone
E Clear and concise
E Helpful to the reader
E Well-phrased and well-organized
E Appropriate word choice
E Paragraphs are unified and coherent
E Follows standard rules of punctuation, grammar, and spelling
E Clear purpose
Characteristics of Each Rating
No documents are alike. Rating a document will rarely be instantaneous. Yet, after reading thousands of claims documents, I
believe a claims professional can quickly rate a document, become
more aware of the specific type of writing issues that commonly
occur in the field, and judge the relative severity of each problem.
As you work with the scale, you will develop your own way of
applying its basic tenets to the particular document you are reviewing. Something about the seriousness and frequency of the
issues you notice will guide you to make a determination. Few
documents will be awful; few will be free of all writing problems.
Here are the types of issues I notice in each of the five ratings.
Some may be present in any of the ratings, occurring once in the
best of documents and many times in the worst.
One out of every fifty or so
documents may be incendiary and need immediate intervention. Among these are letters that are discoverable
in which ageism, racism, or sexist or demeaning remarks are
evident and may be exploited by opposing counsel. Subjective
language may demonstrate that the writer has already become
biased before all the facts are in. Sometimes a harsh or even belligerent tone makes a document unacceptable. It may alienate a
client, top manager, or opposing counsel.
One letter, filled with numerous punctuation and grammar errors, became “Unacceptable” when the reader, an educator, not
only took offense to it but also corrected the errors and mailed a
copy of the letter to the carrier’s CEO.
Examples from unacceptable documents:
“We have very differing opinions about who has been
dragging their feet on this claim in terms of bringing it
to a conclusion.”
“The policyholder was discussing something with
three Mexican-looking guys…”
Lack of objectivity, taken from a claims file: “We have a favorable interview from a neighbor that our insured’s driver was not
supposed to use the car.”
Even more subjectivity: “We can only hope that the plaintiff’s
condition continues to deteriorate …We think this person will
die of cancer and we will be off the hook.”
Belligerent tone: “Reality has finally set in, and your client, his
family, and even you now realize the theories of liability that you
have relied upon in the past are not applicable to this claim.”
Embarrassing word choice: “We want to settle your claim as
expediently as possible.”
A combination of poor word-
ing, questionable punctuation
and grammar, as well as inap-
propriate tone. Examples are as follows:
“Dear Mr. & Mrs. Smith;