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ICBC launches phone line for Cantonese- and Mandarin-speaking customers


November 27, 2015   by Canadian Underwriter


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The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) announced on Friday that customers who speak Cantonese or Mandarin can now speak directly to ICBC in their language of choice, thanks to a new, dedicated phone line.

Launched on Friday, the phone line allows customers to connect to a Cantonese or Mandarin-speaking interpreter who will help relay the customer’s claim, driver licensing or insurance enquiry to an ICBC representative and interpret the conversation

Launched on Friday, the phone line allows customers to connect to a Cantonese or Mandarin-speaking interpreter who will help relay the customer’s claim, driver licensing or insurance enquiry to an ICBC representative and interpret the conversation. The toll-free line – 1-855-813-2121 – is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. PST, seven days a week for claims-related enquiries. For insurance and driver licensing enquiries, the line is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

“British Columbia is home to a diverse population that have linguistic needs,” said John Yap, MLA for Richmond-Steveston, in the release. “I applaud ICBC for bridging the language gap and enabling residents to communicate in their language of choice.”

“Being greeted in their preferred language will help our customers feel more at ease with talking about insurance,” added Tony Lau, president and CEO of Tony Lau Insurance Agencies.

These languages were selected based on customer demand, ICBC said in a press release, noting that Cantonese and Mandarin are two of the most common languages spoken in Vancouver outside of English, according to the 2011 Census. They also rank in the top three languages most requested by ICBC customers – which are Mandarin, Punjabi and Cantonese – making up approximately 75% of all interpretation inquiries.

The Chinese line supplements ICBC’s ongoing efforts to serve its multilingual customers. The press release noted that ICBC’s website features dedicated pages fully translated in the three most-requested languages and ICBC also provides free, over-the-phone, interpretation services in 170 languages. In addition, in 2013, ICBC launched its first direct phone line for Punjabi-speaking customers.

Since introducing its telephone language assistance service, the number of phone interpretation requests have tripled, with over 441,000 requests received in the last full year, ICBC reported.

“Getting into a crash is already a difficult, stressful experience,” said Steve Crombie, ICBC’s vice president of corporate and stakeholder governance. “We want to help our customers – including those whose first language isn’t English – to be able to file a claim with us in confidence and in comfort.”

More details about ICBC’s direct Chinese phone line can be found at icbc.com/Chinese.