Consistency in Documentation

Part of what I do on a daily basis is write best practices documentation. While many say that perfection is not needed, I disagree in this instance. A big issue I have with documentation is consistency in terms. For example; you may refer to an insurance company as an insurance company or an insurance carrier. I am editing someone else’s document today. So far I have seen insurance company referred to as:

  • Company
  • Carrier
  • Insurance Company
  • Insurance Carrier

All of these were used in the same document to refer to a type of entity. A previous employer of mine taught me to always use Insurance Carrier to denote the Insurance Company. I am also specific about your insured. They may or may not actually be insured. I refer to them as your client. If they are a prospect and the workflow applies to them then they are so described.


Workflow terminologies need to be clear and specific. Think about that new employee in your agency that may have no knowledge of the insurance industry terminologies. If you refer to the Insurance Carrier as a Company; they might have trouble determining which Company is involved in this particular workflow. Could it be:

  • The Client’s Company
  • The Insurance Company
  • The Premium Finance Company
  • Your Agency
  • A Certificate Holder

You can see how a generic term can turn into a big question mark.

It is no easy task to be consistent. I rarely open a document that I have written that I don’t find some inconsistency. I even find that proofreaders and editors face this same problem. Our minds wonder, we get interrupted and our thinking process changes if we leave the document and return later.

Do you face challenges with these issues? What are your suggestions for dealing with this?

  • Dave

    I used to work for an insurance company or carrier. We were referred to as Fort Fumble and Puzzle Palace. What names have you REALLY seen insurance companies called, Pat?

    • Ha, Ha. I have heard many similar terms.One that comes to mind is Royal Glob. Some just can’t be shared.