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How To Talk With The People At Your Insurance Company (Make A Friend)

Prepare Before You Make A Call

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Set Goals.

Think about the goal or goals of the call. Consider writing the goal(s) down to help keep in mind during the conversation. You may also want to write down specific questions.

Prioritize your questions.

So you can ask the most important first.

Pull together all the information you need for the call.

For instance, your Social Security number, insurance policy numbers, and any bills or explanation-of-benefits forms in question. If you're calling about a question about your coverage, it would help to have a copy of the policy as well -- but don't delay making the call if it will take extended time to find the policy.

Be prepared to take notes comfortably.

Be ready to make notes about the conversation -- on a full size piece of paper or perhaps directly to the computer. Label the page with the date, the time of the call and the number you are calling. If you get transferred from extension to extension, write down each number.

If possible, be seated at a desk or table so you can sit comfortably and be able to write.

Be prepared to stay comfortable and avoid muscle strain -- don't cradle the phone with your shoulder.

A headset or a telephone with a speaker can make delays much easier to bear while you work your way through the maze of a recorded telephone tree, and especially while on hold. If a speaker isn't built into your phone, headsets are not expensive these days. For an example, see Plantronics at offsite link.

Avoid calling from a noisy location.

Background noise can be very distracting to the person on the other end of the line.

Be sure you have enough time for the call.

Most calls take time. In addition to automated telephone menus, you may be placed on hold or have your call transferred from one person to another before you reach the person who is able to help you.

Decide whether to record the call.

Some people suggest recording conversations. If you do, let the other person know you are recording the call. Make a statement to that effect while the recorder is on in case you need proof later on that you disclosed the fact that you recorded the conversation.

If you'd prefer not to let the other person know about the recording, check the laws in your state. In some states it is illegal to record conversations without informing the other party.

Work On Your Mind Set.

The most annoying aspect about working with insurance companies today can be the phone tree (which is discussed below) and being kept on hold endlessly, disconnected or transferred to someone who can't help you. Rather than tense-up at the thought this may happen during the call, prepare for it.

If you're in a car at a traffic light and in a hurry, you get tense and possibly angry waiting for the light to change. If you're not in a rush, you don't even notice the time passing. Go for the latter feeling when making a call.

Have Something To Do While You're On Hold.

Be sure it's not an activity that distracts you from hearing any phone tree prompts or the person who finally says hello but may hang up if you don't respond immediately. If you're caught off guard, at least say something like "Please hold on" to let the person know you're at the end of the line and they shouldn't go on to the next caller.

Add your own ideas to the following suggestions for things to do while on hold:

  • Skim a magazine.
  • Play solitaire on your computer or with a deck of cards.
  • Do a puzzle such as a crossword puzzle or Sudoku -- preferably something that doesn't frustrate you.
  • Prepare the grocery shopping list.
  • Leaf through that stack of mail order catalogues that has been piling up.

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