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Questions & Answers

Consumer Communication

Can we notify our homeowners' customers that we will add Identity Theft coverage to their policies and ask them to "opt out" if they don't want it?

No. The regulators in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania have long viewed this as impermissible. Sometimes referred to as “negative automatic roll-on,” the gist of the practice is that customers are forced to monitor and opt out of offers in order not to be charged extra at renewal.

While as independent insurance agents, we often have strong feelings about some of the coverage choices made by our customers, the reality is that if we were on the receiving end of this kind of offer, we would likely react the same way they do, and view the offer as an attempt to force us to accept coverage that we just don’t want.

As the saying goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” While your goal is to protect customers whose coverage you view as lacking, from the regulators’ standpoint, it is an unfair trade practice. The coverage selection needs to be based on an opt-in mechanism. From a marketing standpoint, you need to rethink the offer so that your customers make the decision to add the coverage onto the policy, not to remove it. Will it be as effective? Probably not. Will you be less likely to explain yourself to the regulator and pay a fine? Absolutely.

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Consumer Education

Where can we find a glossary of insurance terms in Spanish that makes it easier to explain basic coverages?

There are several resources you can use. Not surprisingly, many come from a state with a large latino community, Texas.

The Texas Department of Insurance itself dedicates a web page to several insurance glossaries (depending on the line). The glossaries provide definitions, and are available both in English and Spanish.

Find more from the Texas DOI

Something to keep in mind: Since this resource comes from Texas, some caution should be exercised before providing it to your customers. So before using the definitions, make sure they are generic enough to apply to your state’s coverages as well.

If your staff is fluent enough to read the Spanish version and finds it properly translates the coverage as applicable in your state, then go with it. If your staff can speak Spanish but is unwilling to make the call based on the technicality of the translation, first review the English version to make sure the coverages are properly described.

For some general brochures with more of a marketing angle, the Insurance Information Institute (III) has flyers already made. From the III store, you can scroll down to "Online Brochures," and you will find flyers both in English and Spanish. Just as above, if you speak Spanish, you'll be able to see if you're comfortable with the wording and if it properly reflects what you are looking to explain.

Access the III store

For flood insurance, FEMA provides brochures in Spanish.

Access FEMA's brochures 

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Meet Our Experts

IA&B Vice President - Advocacy Claire Pantaloni, CIC, CISR

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IA&B Legal & Corporate Affairs Director Don Bankus

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