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.

Some Troublesome Words, Part 1

What’s the difference between “insure” and ensure”? And can you differentiate among “to,” “two,” and “too”? One claims adjuster told me this insure/ensure mix-up was one of his major pet peeves: “Ensure! Please don’t tell me you can ‘insure a …

Ridding Your Writing of Redundancy

Redundancy is a type of wordy phrase in which, usually, one word is giving the message and the other word is, in a different way, repeating the message. In the phrase “VIN Number,” the term “VIN” already means Vehicle Identification …

Linking Your Thoughts With a Semicolon

People are always confusing the semicolon with the colon, but they are quite different. All of the comma rules, in one way or other, are separating a dependent clause from the rest of the sentence (e.g., The manager, who led …

How to Improve the Format of Policy Language in Denial Letters

One of the most cumbersome aspects of a denial letter is the often-abrupt transition from letter to legalistic policy language to establish what the policy says regarding a particular type of incident. Claims people refer claimants to the policy in …

Word Choice in Claims Letters, Part 2

Here are a few additional word choice issues I see as I give my webinars and seminars on claims writing across the U.S. Watch for these as you phrase your letters: “Our offer is firm and non-negotiable.” Isn’t this redundant? …

Word Choice in Claims Letters, Part 1

The following bullets point out random errors in word choice. You may not lose a client because you make a poor word choice, but you’re not helping the relationship along either. Here are several word choice issues to watch for …

What is Your Company’s Worst Claims Writing Problem?

Today, the Claims Writing Coach is taking a brief reader survey to found out the most embarrassing or costly writing errors you see throughout your department or company. Once I have your answers, I can then focus my column more …

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 …