Insurance is complex. At Nationwide, we want to help make insurance easier for consumers to understand.
Results of a recent survey commissioned by Nationwide Insurance and conducted by Harris Interactive show that just 40 percent of consumers have read their current insurance policy in its entirety, while just seven percent described their insurance policy as simple. We want our members to be fully informed and confident that they have made the best insurance decisions for their needs. We also want them to feel comfortable that they understand how to use their policies. But that may not be possible as long as the words consumers most often use to describe the policies, according to our survey, are “too long,” “complicated,” “overwhelming,” and “confusing.”
Nationwide is taking action right now to help make insurance easier to comprehend. Below are some of the things we are doing to improve our members’ understanding of their policies and help them feel safer and more secure in the choices they make regarding insurance.
Insurance policies, which are legal documents, are carefully guided at the state level by legislators and regulators. The language in policies is worded carefully to make sure consumers have a better understanding of what they are purchasing; however, that language is often complex. Our survey found that 92 percent of consumers would support a law that encouraged insurance companies to provide a one?page summary of their policy. Nationwide supports legislative and regulatory changes that would create an easy-to-read summary with the official insurance contract.
Some of the complex language required by states makes it difficult for even consumers who take the time to read the contracts to really understand what they say. According to the survey, only one in five consumers believe they completely understand the details in their insurance policy. To improve the readability of our contracts, we used the Flesch Reading Ease Formula and conducted internal research and focus groups to assess how well we communicate with our members. Using this data, we are working with legislators and regulators to simplify the language.
Technology, on your terms
Finally, as smartphones and other mobile devices become an increasingly dominant means of communication, we’d like to reach out to our members through the channels that are most convenient for them.
Regulatory guidelines and restrictions in some states currently call for handwritten signatures on contracts, paper notifications from insurers, and require motorists to carry hard copies of insurance forms in their vehicles. While these guidelines were put in place to protect companies and consumers, the ability to use electronic signatures and notifications and display proof of insurance on their devices would make it easier for consumers. Nationwide is working with policymakers to approve legislation that would allow use of electronic notifications and signatures on insurance documents.
Change never comes easy. But when our survey tells us 57 percent of consumers know more about their favorite prime-time television shows than they do about their insurance policy, anything we can do to help them better understand their insurance policy is an important step to take.