Articles by Gary Blake

image of Gary Blake Gary Blake is director of The Communication Workshop, offering claims writing webinars and seminars to claims professionals throughout the US, Bermuda, Canada, and the UK. Blake is the author of The Elements of Business Writing (Pearson Education), used at more than 100 insurance companies. He has written about claims writing for a number of industry publications. His e-mail is garyblake725@gmail.com.

Are Your Letters Filled With Old-Fashioned Phrases?

Old-fashioned words and phrases clutter up claims letters, detract from a professional image and do not belong in your templates or free-form missives. I’ll list a few of these phrases and comment on each. You’re invited to disagree and to …

10 Tips on Responding to Claimant Complaints

Although insurance carriers care deeply about the approval ratings from their policyholders, claims responses to claimant complaints are often stodgy, mistake-ridden and vague. The following 10 brief tips will help you catch and correct problems before sending out these important …

How Weasel Words Weaken Your Writing

While it is proper to admit not being sure of a fact, some claims people get carried away with the use of “weasel words,” sprinkling them liberally throughout letters to claimants, attorneys, physicians and commissioners. As I review writing samples …

The Trouble With ‘Which’ and ‘That’

In my book, The Elements of Business Writing (Pearson Education), I have a section on “Misused and Troublesome Words.” Among the most troublesome pairs of words in English are which and that. Most people use them interchangeably, but each has …

Conquering the Apostrophe

After the comma, the second most difficult punctuation mark to master is the apostrophe. Apostrophes are troublesome because there is no universal agreement about the rule that states that single nouns, including those ending in “s”, add ” ‘s.” There …

Improving Workers’ Compensation Correspondence

Like their brethren in property/casualty and life/health, workers’ compensation claims professionals write a lot. They write to physicians, lawyers, claimants, employers and many others. Like so many others in the world of claims, many workers’ comp people mistakenly think that …

How to Format a Claims Letter

How do you format a claims letter? Insurance companies seem to be in search of a reliable, reasonable format that will help their letters achieve a consistent, easy-to-read “look.” The following are some tips on gaining consistency in a business …

What Spell Checks Don’t Check

The first spell-check system was developed by a group of six linguists from Georgetown University in the late 1970s for the mainframe computers produced by IBM corporation. If, however, you think that Microsoft Word’s Spell Check will alert you to …

Breaking the Rules of Writing

In almost every writing skills seminar, there comes a moment in which a participant finds that one of the notions about writing that he or she has held since elementary school is either no longer valid or is dead wrong. …

Comments on the Comma

By far, the trickiest punctuation mark in claims writing is the comma. There are eight comma rules, which we didn’t enjoy in high school, and knowing them will give a boost to every letter you write. Every day, thousands of …