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Who Is “The Undersigned”? Me!

I am working on my presentation "Business Writing for Claims Professionals" for the PLRB/LIRB Claims Conference next month in Seattle. (PLRB=Property Loss Research Bureau; LIRB=Liability Insurance Research Bureau.) 

Among my examples of insurance writing is this letter sent to a friend of mine who was injured in a serious automobile accident:

Dear Mr. xxxx xxxxx:

I hope this letter finds you well.

I would appreciate an update on your injuries and ask that you contact the undersigned.

Please contact me so that we can discuss this further. I can be reached weekdays between 9:00AM - 1:00PM at the above telephone numbers.

Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon.


xxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Claims Specialist

"The undersigned" is an example of what drives people nuts about insurance writing. It is distant and unnecessarily complicated. After all, who is the undersigned? Me.  

I recommend banishing "the undersigned" from your vocabulary unless your goal is indeed to be distant and complicated. That is never my goal.

Here's a better version of the letter:

Dear xxxx xxxxx:

I hope you are feeling well. I would appreciate an update on your injuries. . . .  [Tell why.]

Would you please call me at ______ [Give phone numbers]? I am available weekdays between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

I look forward to talking with you.


xxxx xxxxxxxxxxx
Claims Specialist

Do you have good or bad examples of writing that involves insurance claims? If so, please email them to the undersigned–me! You and I can help the insurance industry communicate more effectively. Feel free to remove any identifying information, or I will do so.

Syntax Training

Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

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