Translating the Language of Insurance Presents Challenges

For native English speakers, understanding an insurance policy written in English can be quite challenging. The insurance industry has a language all its own that sometimes needs explaining and translating into terms that lay people can understand. The insurer’s agents have been trained to know what these special terms mean and how they can affect a policy. Translating insurance policies from English to another language often presents a challenge to not only the person interested in purchasing insurance, but also the agent and the translator, as well.
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Some words and phrases in the insurance policy have special meanings of their own when inserted into a policy. They may not be translatable into another language using specific terms. For example, the word “rider” in English has a number of different meanings. When referred to in the world of insurance, having a rider means that extra insurance must be purchased along with the larger policy to cover it. Unless the insurance agent is well-versed in the customer’s language, it may be difficult to explain exactly what it means and whether this is the type of coverage the client is seeking. It may be nearly impossible to explain what items are included in the larger policy versus a rider. An English to Spanish text translation, for example, may be what the Hispanic client needs to see. This means the translator must be able to understand what the insurance terms mean in both Spanish and English.

One way to make it easier for the person providing Spanish translation services is to furnish or create a glossary of technical terms. It must be accurately compiled by someone who understands insurance terminology in both English and Spanish. When this information is provided to the translator, it is much easier for them to use the proper terminology and for those reading the English to Spanish written translation to understand what it means. Once the glossary of terms is received from the insurance company, the translators can accurately provide the insurance information in Spanish. Many insurance policies are very long. As a result, the glossary of terms provided must be very extensive.

If there are several policies being translated, however, it will benefit everyone involved in the project and is well worth the time spent to create it. Each policy will likely be slightly different, which means the terminology in both English and Spanish will differ somewhat from one policy document to the next. Having a glossary available will make the nuances more clear to the readers and the agents. In other words, the policies are unlikely to carry the exact same provisions for one client as they are another, so the wording will not be the same. The clients own different properties and have different types of valuables being insured, so the exact same policy cannot be used for everyone. Each will be tailored accordingly.

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