The bedrock beneath a rewrite of ten AA Insurance personal policies is summed up by a single word.
AA Insurance knows that people are more likely to trust something they can understand, so plain language was a perfect fit for New Zealand’s most trusted insurance company.
AA Insurance has been voted the Reader’s Digest Most Trusted General Insurance Brand for 10 consecutive years. The company scored high customer satisfaction through the latest Canstar Blue rating, with five-star ratings across most categories including communications, and quality of service. In the latest Consumer customer satisfaction survey, AA Insurance received the highest rating for mass market brands, having more ‘very satisfied’ customers than most other providers.
AA Insurance wanted to make sure people buying insurance knew exactly what they’re signing up for. No fine print. No grey areas — just honest, well-organised information that kept legal rigour while being absolutely clear and transparent.
Reworking these core personal insurance policies to make them easier to understand was one piece of AA Insurance’s larger year-long project to transform customer experience.
For AA Insurance, trust means doing the right things for the right reason — in the right way. It means connecting your strategy, actions, and communication.
Money research company Canstar found in 2019 that nearly one-third of Kiwis didn’t understand their car insurance policy. And the most common complaints to the Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman (IFSO) are about misunderstanding a policy or contract. AA Insurance took notice.
AA Insurance acted by:
Covid-19 also brought about new ways of working for AA Insurance’s people — both working from home and quickly switching to different areas with the most demand. This meant staff needed to quickly understand new information to be able to communicate clearly with all customers. Three-quarters of staff are in customer-facing roles.
Write helped put clear communication at the heart of 10 updated and one new policy by assessing each one against all 28 elements of the WriteMark — the quality mark for clear communication. The WriteMark gives independent proof that the writing and presentation meet the highest standard of plain language.
The original policy documents already met 16 of the 28 criteria. Work was still needed on structure, headings, sentences, and layout. The goal was to make it easy for a non-expert to read it once and understand it, and to help them find what they needed later on if they wanted to make a claim.
AA Insurance accepted the challenge to regroup and reorder some of the content from a reader’s point of view. They changed generic headings into headings that gave readers key information in one bite. They also shortened and rewrote some sentences and used familiar everyday words as much as possible.
Breaking long exclusions into bullet points and making sure all the design elements were clear and accessible also transformed the reader’s experience.
All updated versions of the policies now hold the WriteMark Plus. This means that the policies have all had additional scrutiny through user-testing — with changes applied that real readers advocated for. The Plus brings an extra guarantee of clarity for AA Insurance’s customers.
Working together to get the WriteMark on all the policies was sometimes surprising for AA Insurance. They told us:
But what about the challenges? The most difficult part of the process for AA Insurance was making sure the new language still held the right meaning for the legal team. This piece of work took the most time and conversation. Again, trust was a key plank. Everyone understood that the meaning was the job of the legal team, but the team trusted Write to use the right words to communicate that meaning.
Since the new plain language policies were launched, the number of customers calling to ask questions after reading the policy online has dropped. So has the number of escalation calls from frontline staff to technical support staff.
Frontline staff have said it’s much easier explaining information to customers and so much easier to find the right information at the right time. They’ve said they don’t have to flip around through the whole document and can just read out clear wording to answer a question.
Staff and customers have also said having more informative and descriptive headings means they can find and understand information more quickly.
Technical operations staff have also noticed a significant drop in the number of product-related questions since the documents were rewritten in plain language.
Upcoming law changes in New Zealand will soon mean all consumers can expect to understand any insurance policy and contract they are signing. The onus will also be on insurers to ask the right questions and make sure their policies are fair.
Clarity that comes from compliance is good. Clarity that comes from care is even better.
This can help combat a traditional lack of trust from consumers and provide certainty when times are uncertain.
The work AA Insurance has done to build and keep trust with its customers is plain to see. Write is proud to be a partner in helping make sure all the words reflect that.
Plain language can transform your the way your customers view your brand.
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