With the Spanish-speaking population in the U.S. ranking in the top-five worldwide, insurers are
finding they need to either use a translation service or hire Spanish-speaking staff.
According to the Pew Research Center,
Spanish is spoken at home by 37. 6 million people in this country. This eclipses
Chinese, which is the second-most frequently spoken non-English language at
home with 2.8 million speakers.
One company in North Carolina experienced an increase in the number of
claims by Spanish-speaking policyholders and took action to address this trend
by hiring bilingual claims representatives.
HVAC Investigators (HVACi) hired representatives who are fluent in both English and Spanish so customers are able to
converse in their native language.
“I’ve processed a substantial amount of
claims in the past few weeks where the
policyholder only speaks Spanish,” says
Ashley Reid, one of HVACi’s Spanish-
speaking claims representatives. “For-
merly, many carriers were using trans-
lation services to handle these claims.
Now, we can overcome the language bar-
rier without the complication of third-
Pew Research says the other languages
spoken in U.S. homes include: Hindi, Urdu
or other Indic languages ( 2. 2 million);
French ( 2.1 million); Tagalog (1.7 mil-
lion); Vietnamese (1.4 million); German
(1.2 million) and Korean (1.1 million).
As the U.S. population becomes even
more multi-cultural, the needs of these
populations will change the way insurers
serve their customers in terms of cover-
age and the use of technology. There are
mobile apps that allow adjusters and
claims managers to access translators
through a third-party company if the in-
surer doesn’t have someone on staff who
speaks a customer’s native language.
However, insurers see the value of hir-
ing bilingual staff as well. “State Farm does
have in-language claims teams meeting
our Spanish-speaking customer’s needs,”
explains Anna Bryant, public affairs spe-
cialist for State Farm. “Our teams are lo-
cated throughout the company.”
Chubb, a global company with operations in Latin America as well as customers who do business internationally,
has the ability to handle multinational
claims. “We know of at least 30 people in
our claims operations who speak Spanish,” says Mark Schussel, vice president
and public relations manager for Chubb.
“They are in a variety of different positions and disciplines in our claim center,
branch and home office operations across
the country.” Bilingual employees include
adjusters, examiners, operations and
manager in the areas of workers comp, casualty, property and marine insurance.
8 SEPTEMBER 2014 Claims Magazine PropertyCasualty360.com
Hablas español?: Non-English speaking
clients create new challenges for insurers
By Patricia L. Harman, PropertyCasualty360.com
Number of people speaking non-English languages in U.S. homes
37. 6 million
2. 2 million