to this matter in which case litigation would be a distinct
“This is to confirm that XXX
Insurance Company has re-
ceived your notice of loss regarding the theft of your tools, and
our conversation of December 29th, 2003.”
Just one example, such as the following lengthy paragraph filled
with legalese, can put a document into the “Fair” category:
“Inasmuch as the late reporting of this loss may have impaired
Acme Insurance Agency’s ability to determine the origin and extent of damage and whether coverage exits for the loss, the purpose
of this letter is to advise you that any action taken by any representative of Acme Insurance Agency in connection with the investigation of the aforesaid reported wind and water damage claim,
including the investigation of all facts pertaining thereto such as
the cause, loss or damage resulting therefrom shall in now way
change, waive, invalidate or forfeit any of the terms, conditions
and requirements of the above captioned policy of insurance.”
Occasional issues with tenses, often associated with people
for whom English is a second language: “I have not receive this
Occasional slash constructions: “he/she” “and/or”
May contain the weak and presumptuous: “Thank you in advance for your cooperation”; or the cliché: “If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me.”
September 12, 2011
Ms. Alisa Craig
6 McDermott Street
Seattle, WA 98767
INSURED: Mason Group/Cedar Hill Apartments
POLICY NUMBER: 989898
DATE OF LOSS: May 19, 2011
ABC CLAIM NUMBER: POL09990
Jahn Adjusting was retained by ABC Insurance to investigate
the claim for the damage to the building as a result of fire at the
loss location of 22 Foothill Road, Bellevue, WA 98678.
This letter serves to inform you that a $100,000 advance was
issued and received by you on Thursday, September 7, 2011, toward the building portion of your claim. At your request we are
notifying you in writing of the above mentioned payment(s).
The foregoing reservation is predicated upon the facts and
circumstances known at this time. ABC Insurance expressly reserves its right to amend this reservation at a later date should it
If you have any questions in regards to your claim, please contact your Public Adjuster, Karen Seider, at (543) 324-5555.
Note: In the letter just quoted, the “RE” line, salutation, inside
address, and closing are all correctly done.
To earn a “1” or “Excellent,” a
document needs to be free of
even the smallest problems.
The inside address, RE line, salutation, and closing are perfect.
Sentences and paragraphs are not too long and are easy to read.
In fact, if you were to read this document aloud, it would sound
warm and natural as the human voice.
Here are ten earmarks of an excellent letter:
1. It gets right to the point
2. No old-fashioned phrases (e.g., “enclosed please find,” “as
3. No redundant expressions
4. No wordiness or vagueness
5. Logical flow of ideas
6. Appropriate transitions
7. No spacing, spelling, abbreviation, or capitalization errors
8. Apt word choice
10. Conversational but not containing slang or colloquialisms
To be proactive in tackling claims-writing problems will prevent a million- or billion-dollar carrier, TPA, or independent
agency from experiencing everything from embarrassment to
a bad-faith lawsuit. Clear, precise writing disarms the opposing
attorney who might enjoy reading a poor claims letter aloud in
court. Effective writing gives you the edge because it demonstrates that you are fluent, organized, and authoritative. K
Gary Blake is director of The Communication Workshop, which
offers writing seminars, webinars, and editorial help with template letters and best-practices guidelines. He is also the author
of “The Elements of Business Writing.” Blake may be reached at