HB 23-1004: Colorado’s New In-Language Policy Law and Its Marketing Impact

Diana Malaga | February 1, 2024

Have you heard of Colorado’s in-language policy law?

HB 23-1004 is a new law in Colorado that went into effect on January 1st, 2024, that requires property and casualty insurance companies to have certified translations of all documents available in every language they advertise in. And failure to have all matching language materials available will result in penalties.

HB 23-1004’s impact on insurance marketing

While this law was intended to create more equality for non-English speakers, it has unfortunately created a complicated situation for insurance companies.

To mitigate risks and the expense of certified translations, many insurers are planning to pull all non-English advertisements and materials while they consider long-term plans. So, this law that was meant to improve non-English communications has backfired, causing insurers to remove non-English material.

To help with this situation, insurance companies can establish a language certification program for agencies. This would ensure that only certified agencies are able to gain access to in-language marketing assets, and only for the languages in which they are certified. Plus, having a process in place would keep agents a step ahead of their competitors.

With that said, this new legislation will impact all insurance companies across their marketing channels. Here are our recommendations on how insurance companies can best navigate the road ahead.

Insurance marketing recommendations

Until you are able to provide a verified end-to-end in-language experience of certified translations, there are a few immediate steps to take.

To get your marketing in compliance with the new law:

  • Pull/hide any non-English assets from agents in CO.
  • Halt any in-language emails, texts, or phone calls from agents in CO or to residents of CO.
  • Design training materials, webinars with Q&As, and all resources possible for local agents to be fully aware of the laws, the implications, what the brand is doing in response, and long-term plans of what they can expect.

It’s critical that local partners are fully aware and understand what they are (and are not) allowed to do to avoid any compliance issues. It’s also critical that your local partners feel supported and understand that the brand cares about their business, especially those that specialize in in-language customers.

Now, let’s dive into how Colorado’s in-language policy law impacts each of the main marketing channels.

Organic social

Assuming your insurance brand has complied with the Colorado requirements, here are some tips and recommendations for social media.

Organic social media post copy can be translated into the user’s browser language directly on a social media platform. Social post copy can also be created in multiple languages and scheduled in each language for agent locations specializing in non-English speakers.

It will be important to either use images without text overlay or to create separate images in non-English areas and use images with the advertising language’s text. This will be the same for video content with spoken words or text in the video imagery. If links are used in social media posts (to websites, etc.), the agent will need to ensure they are linking to a webpage in the advertised language.

Paid social

While social media platforms will translate ad copy into non-English recognized languages, providing ad copy in all languages is recommended to ensure the copy is accurate and sends the correct message (beware of auto-translation errors). As with organic social, paid social will not translate graphic text or video text — this must be done manually by your creative team.

Keep in mind that reaching a large group of the Colorado population in their native language could pay off significantly — if it can be fully supported. There may be less competitor ad spend in this space as the laws tighten up, which means more room for your ads to shine.

We recommend that clients develop separate ad and landing page copy with a native speaker as opposed to direct translations to communicate the most effective messaging. Also, ensure conversions can be responded to by native speakers.

Paid media

Any non-English ad campaigns need to be in that language at each and every step, from the ad copy and creative to the destination landing pages, and even any conversion actions on the page.

For example, landing page contact forms would need to be in the language, trigger a thank you message in the language, communicate to the lead in that language, and be received by someone at the business who could respond in the same language.

Paid search copy, in particular, would need to not only be translated, but would need analysis and strategy from a native speaker of that language to ensure the messaging is clear for keywords and descriptions. If the consumer is passed to a quoting tool to receive an insurance quote, this would also need to be in the ad language.

Direct translation will not work in all formats, especially paid search. Having multi-language support for landing pages and potentially corporate-managed quoting tools often comes with development effort and red tape.

Traditional media

At the local level, it’s hard to control or audit materials in-market for traditional media or to take actions to promptly remove them if they are not compliant once they are in-market. So, it’s critical that brands educate local channel partners on the impact of this new law and how to navigate it, as well as provide expectations of what kind of resources the brand will have available to allow them to continue doing business.

Traditional media tactics could be the best way to educate end users on the impact of these laws and guide their purchase journeys. With a phone number in ads, users can talk to reps, confirm their language preference, and ensure they get the right support and documents from the beginning when it is available. Clients should only include phone numbers or URLs that direct to resources in-language as the first point of contact while hosting non-English events.

Audience insights

A quarter of the Colorado population identifies as Hispanic, Latino, or Asian. This participation follows the same trend at the national scale.

Table showing percentages of race and Hispanic origin in Colorado

Source: Census data. www.census.gov

With that in mind, and considering some states are home to an even larger population with in-language needs (California’s over 50%), it wouldn’t come as a surprise that more states may follow Colorado’s example and set similar laws.

Insurance brands should prepare to meet this demand and strategize to take advantage of the growth opportunities it represents for the industry. Some insurance brands might choose to remove anything in-language to eliminate the risk of penalties for noncompliance. However, that move will only reduce the size of their potential market over time.

Per Nielsen 2023 survey data, looking at purchasing behavior for the audience in Colorado that identifies as Hispanic, Latino, or Asian, 73% have taken an agreement for auto insurance, while 60% have done it for home insurance.

With auto insurance showing a bigger adoption, it’s a good idea to make it a priority to build policy documents and all related materials, including advertising. Bundling will not be available until home policy documentation is also available.

When it comes to age, among those Hispanic, Latino, or Asian audiences that have taken an insurance agreement, 61% are under 44 years old, which means they are likely second- or third-generation and tend to be fluently bilingual. This represents hope for the industry, as an important part of this segment will likely still be able to continue doing business in English. For example, the AdAge 2023 Hispanic Marketing Report points out that 84% of third-generation Hispanics prefer to speak English at home.

However, it is not a good idea to do business only in English, but rather, this is an opportunity for brands to grow in loyalty and strengthen their power within this segment. The same AdAge report also shows that, although second- and third-generation Hispanics are likely to be fluent in both Spanish and English, they tend to engage and value more the brands that advertise in Spanish, as they seem to respect their culture and value their business more.

As for the media, this segment consumes on a typical day, Nielsen data confirms they are mostly online and on social media. This means that brands should prioritize creating in-language content that caters to their needs and ensure that each piece of linked content is fully compliant with the new policies, including: URLs, documents to download, lead forms, chatbots, customer service recordings, and the people who respond to calls. This also means, however, that all insurance documents (such as policies and privacy website pages) must also be available in the language advertised.

Finally, when looking at the channels this segment in Colorado uses when making purchasing decisions, online and social media channels, as well as channel influence, play an important role. Brands should prioritize these channels when building resources available to advertise in-language.

Colorado’s non-English speaking population is growing partially due to Colorado’s leniency with immigration law. This attracts those who’ve traditionally been underserved for a variety of related reasons. These individuals are now looking to improve their lifestyles with insurance protection, as evidenced in AdAge’s research. But unfortnately, this law will prohibit many agents from marketing to these audiences.

Make sure your brand is ready

With new legislation comes the need for a partner who can guide you through these changes. At BrandMuscle, we’ve long supported insurance companies and their local agents with our best-in-class ecosystem of local marketing solutions.

Get in touch with one of our experts to learn more.

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