Growing Backlash on Translation Services

Automated portals have become popular but can be ungainly and unresponsive. A movement back toward agencies has begun.

One noticeable change in the insurance industry over the past 20 years has been the requirement for providers to deal with foreign-language documents in both claims handling and marketing. It makes good business sense to communicate effectively with customers and potential customers whose native language might not be a mainstream one, and it is a feature of the beginning of the 21st century that few nations are now uniformly monolingual. Insurance translation services – the options Most insurance providers opt for a professional translation agency that specializes in insurance. The translation is expected to replicate the accuracy and thoroughness of the original communication. Insurance translators have often worked within the insurance industry themselves or have a good grounding in insurance terminology or a certain field of it, such as medical or legal documents. Insurance providers can basically choose between working with individual translators, translation agencies with human project managers or automated translation job portals. Automated portals have been immensely popular for a few years now. In recent years, however, we have experienced a regression, with abandonment of such automated providers. Here’s why: Translating communication materials Insurance providers have learned that there is good business to be had in adapting their insurance products and the way they communicate information about their products with a new cohort of customers. But insurance, whether it is household insurance, automotive insurance, life insurance or any other insurance service, is a highly specialized industry, and communicating with clients requires specific and precise terminology. It can be hard enough for those whose native language is the same as that of the insurance provider to understand the language of insurance, but the translation must let a customer choose the right plan, understand the terms and conditions of that plan (including the all-important “small print”) and make a claim if they need to do so. See also: 3 Keys to Success for Automation  Working with an individual translator is often not feasible due to the scope of the work, and automated portals are tricky because providers cannot request a specific translator, which creates serious issues with consistency and continuity. The ideal middle way is the human-centered translation agency that can organize a panel of quality translators who collaborate and ensure consistency over time. Even one or two translators leaving does not jeopardize quality and turnaround times, as the translators can easily be replaced within the team. Translating claims-related documents Translation portals often offer no human-to-human interaction. Questions about a translation job either cannot be asked or are subject to a substantial time lag. Smaller translation providers, on the other hand, offer “old-fashioned” email-based customer service, which is often more desirable for insurance provider employees as they have a designated human contact point who can update them on the progress of a project if needed. Time-critical situations that involve the transport of injured clients or even the urgent repatriation of a dead body are common in this field. Support staff are often under a lot of pressure, and direct communication with a translation project manager can help them a lot. A realistic estimation of the turnaround time of a translation is, after all, a lot more helpful than an automatically calculated one that may or may not be realistic. Using an individual sole-operator translator for claims materials is not feasible, as providers ideally want 24/7 or at least 20/7 availability, something easily achieved by a well-managed mid-sized agency but not by an individual. The billing issue Insurance providers often have very specific billing requirements. This can include something as simple as the provision of a case or policy number on an invoice, or the supplier’s ability to upload invoices to a designated supplier portal. Such specific workflows are not supported by large translation portals, where users may be able to download invoices but there’s no guarantee that they comply with legislative requirements or special workflows. Smaller providers, on the other hand, can adjust their invoicing procedures with relative ease. See also: Here Comes Robotic Process Automation   A word about machine translation Although fully automated translation technology is still years or decades away from being used without the need for human input, the use of what is called “semi-automated technology” is certainly now standard. This technology helps to automate and speed up parcels of text that are routine and repetitious. It can build and incorporate glossaries and style guides that streamline translation and provide consistency from one project to another and between translators who may be working as a team on the same project. Good insurance translators and insurance translation agencies, however, always professionally edit and proofread all their translation output before submitting it back to their insurance provider client. Outlook The industry has learned to answer the growing needs of customers who may speak a variety of languages by dealing with claims-related documents in foreign languages. This has resulted in the requirement for an efficient and accurate industry-specific translation service. It also makes the choice of professional insurance translators an important one. It’s either a sole practitioner, a human agency or an automated portal. At least for the time being, humans seem to have won the race.

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