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Apr 17, 2014 by Carol Yale

According to the 2014 Call for Clarity Survey, consumers are more confused then ever before when it comes to investments, mortgages, income taxes and insurance.

Rather than building an understanding of financial security, insurance and financial communications are generating financial insecurity instead. Information that’s too complex and confusing may be so intimidating that some consumers are becoming less trusting and suspicious or simply “giving up the fight.”

At the core of complexity: jargon. According to the survey, eight out of 10 consumers are unfamiliar with insurance terms. For young consumers, age 18-24, more than 86% find health insurance and enrollment information too complex. Terms like EOBs, deductibles and coinsurance are “difficult to understand because they aren’t [explained] in plain English.”

Complex terminology can affect reward programs, too. Too many rules and options can muddle the communications and the experience, making it a hassle for consumers to engage, participate and redeem rewards. This is especially true of wellness programs. Learn more about getting results-based wellness communications right.

By comparison, when the survey asked these same consumers about sports terminology, a whopping 31% could explain salary floors, restricted free agency and Larry Bird exceptions. I like Larry Bird, but had no idea there was an exception named after him! So, I visited Wikipedia for an explanation and found it has something to do with NBA salary caps and free agents.

However, beyond the rule named after him, one of the attributes that lifts Bird to “one of the greatest to play the game” status was his crisp and accurate passing ability. No small feat, as basketball insiders will tell you. Bird made the complicated and complex appear easy—and so should you with your communications.

The bottom line is that when consumers understand what they’re reading, they’re more likely to engage with and appreciate the value of what you’re trying to “sell”—whether it’s a consumer-driven health plan, retirement savings or wellness (and even basketball tickets).

With that said, my three takeaways from this survey are:

  1. Keep your consumer (aka, employee) communications simple.
  2. Make your wellness program easy for employees to participate in and get rewarded.
  3. Let our free resources—including our new white paper—help you with your benefits communications.

Also, channel your inner Larry Bird. It couldn’t hurt!

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