RICHMOND — The State Corporation Commission’s Bureau
of Insurance (Bureau) can now assist Virginia consumers with questions or concerns
about insurance, even if they speak little or no English.
In an effort to expand its outreach efforts and facilitate access to insurance-related
information by all Virginians, the Bureau has implemented a new telephone translation
service that will enable its consumer services representatives to help Virginians
who do not speak English or have limited English speaking skills.
According to the latest estimates by Modern Language Association, an organization
dedicated to strengthening the study and teaching of language and literature, 2.7
percent of Virginia’s population – or more than 180,000 people – speak English “not
well” or “not at all.” Of this, 64 percent – or 117,553 Virginians – speak Spanish
and almost 13 percent – or 23,784 people – speak Korean or Vietnamese.
“The Bureau of Insurance is pleased to provide a telephone translation service to
assist a segment of Virginia’s population that we may not have been able to assist
previously,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jacqueline K. Cunningham. “This
new service will allow limited or non-English speaking consumers to contact the
Bureau directly with questions or concerns about their insurance coverage. It enhances
the Bureau’s education and outreach efforts, and expands upon the high-quality services
we already offer to consumers. With the telephone translation capability, we will
be able to provide more Virginians with the informational tools they need to make
sound choices and decisions regarding their insurance coverage,” she said.
The Bureau has contracted with MCI for the telephone translation service, called
LanguageLine®. Non-English speaking consumers may call the Bureau at (804) 371-9741.*
Numerous languages are accessible once the consumer reaches a Bureau consumer services
staff member. Bureau staff will have the capability to dial the LanguageLine®
with the non-English speaking consumer on the phone and access an interpreter for
their particular language.
Funding for the telephone translation service is provided to the Bureau through
a federal grant established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The Bureau will use the grant to enhance existing efforts to educate consumers about
their health coverage options, new programs, and new protections; assist consumers
looking for affordable coverage that meets their needs; and collect, track, and
quantify problems and inquiries it receives regarding health insurance issues.
In addition to its consumer services representatives, who are specially trained
to assist consumers with insurance questions and concerns, the Bureau of Insurance
offers consumer guides and speakers on a variety of insurance-related topics. For
more information, visit its website at www.scc.virginia.gov/boi/.
*The translation service will eventually be available for use on
the Bureau's toll-free consumer services number (1-877-310-6560), but because of
technical issues it is currently only available by calling (804) 371-9741.