Articles by Gary Blake

image of Gary BlakeGary 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.

Do Your Claims Letters Contain the Appropriate Tone?

There’s no good reason to make an enemy of the claimant or, if in litigation, the opposing attorney. We reveal ourselves in our claims letters and their tone. Is the tone nasty? Negative? Arrogant? Your job is to make your …

Knowing Where to Put A Comma

The following sentences are missing commas. See if you can put them in their proper places and ask yourself to supply the rule or reason for your decision. Mr. Polk signed a second agreement on November 2, 2017 which restored …

Answers to 5 Common Questions About Writing

Are there any questions I can ask myself before starting to write that will help me focus my message? Your effectiveness as a writer depends on how well you identify the reader and respond to his or her needs. Before …

Claims Writing Coach: Avoiding Clichés

Clichés are trite written or verbal expressions that are used over and over, eventually wearing themselves out and communicating very little. At first, a phrase is coined and gains popularity (e.g., “Enclosed please find,” “do not hesitate to call,” “point …

Using Microsoft Word’s Comment Feature to Point Out Issues in Letters

Microsoft Word allows you to comment on another person’s document. I find it helpful to point out mistakes or comment on the structure and phraseology of some of the claims letters I am shown during a webinar or seminar. The …

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? …