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May 23, 2018

Insurance commissioner’s plain language campaign: Keep it simple

Plain language initiative


Change is happening

See how we’re cutting the jargon, using larger type, and making other changes to make our information easier to read.

Before and after examples

Help us do better

We’re looking for volunteers to review our information to make sure it’s easy to understand before we publish it.

Tell me more

Imagine if you could go to an insurance website and understand every word. Or you could always find what you needed to solve a problem because it was written in short, clear sentences. Sound good?

Texas Insurance Commissioner Kent Sullivan is working to make that a reality.

Sullivan is a plain language champion, and his message is taking hold at the Texas Department of Insurance. It’s unlikely TDI can get rid of terms like “contingent nonforfeiture benefit” overnight, but the agency is making headway.

  • TDI redesigned its website to help customers solve problems.
  • Sullivan issued guidance to long-term care insurers about writing rate notices in plain language.
  • Letters and forms are being rewritten with an eye toward shorter words and formats that are easier to read.

Sullivan said the goal is to use plain language in everything the agency does − on the website, in writing, even on the phone.  

“It’s not enough to be technically accurate if no one understands your message,” he said. “It’s win-win when consumers understand insurance and how it works.”

Sullivan also places a priority on listening – to what information the agency’s customers need and to how to make it easier to read. For example, a Twitter post that mentioned an “incredibly vague postcard” from TDI soon led to a revised version with larger type, simpler language, and a clearer message.

TDI is now looking for volunteers to help make sure consumer information is easy to understand.

“We invite you to hold us accountable,” Sullivan said. “Insurance can be complex. That makes it even more important to keep the language simple.”

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