Code of the District of Columbia

§ 31–4725. Policy language simplification standards.

(a) Except as provided under § 31-4727, no policy forms shall be delivered or issued for delivery in the District of Columbia after the operative date of this section, unless the forms qualify under the following standards;

(1) The text of the form scores at least 40 on the Flesch reading ease test presented to the Commissioner by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners after 1980 or on another comparable test described in subsection (c) of this section.

(2) The forms shall be printed in at least 10-point type and shall be 1-point leaded.

(3) The style, the arrangement, and the overall appearance of the form shall not unduly highlight a portion of the text, an endorsement, or a rider.

(4) If the policy has more than 3,000 words on 3 pages or has more than 3 pages, then the form shall contain a table of contents or an index of the principal portions of the text.

(b) A Flesch reading ease test score shall be measured by the following method:

(1)(A) For forms containing no more than 10,000 words, the entire form shall be analyzed.

(B) For policy forms containing more than 10,000 words, the readability of 2 different 200 word samples, per page of text, may be analyzed instead of the entire form.

(C) The samples shall be separated by at least 20 printed lines.

(2)(A) The number of words and sentences shall be counted and the total number of words divided by the number of sentences.

(B) The quotient shall be multiplied by 1.015.

(3)(A) The total number of syllables shall be counted and divided by the total number of words.

(B) The quotient shall be multiplied by 84.6.

(4) The sum of the products described in paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection, subtracted from 206.835, equals the Flesch reading ease score.

(5) For paragraphs (2), (3), and (4) of this subsection, the following shall apply:

(A) A contraction, hyphenated word, number, and isolated letter, when separated in the text by spaces shall be counted as 1 word.

(B) A unit of words ending with a period, semicolon, or colon, but excluding headings and captions, shall be counted as a sentence.

(C) The following shall not be counted in computations described in this subsection:

(i) The company name and address.

(ii) The policy name, number, or title.

(iii) The table of contents and index.

(iv) The captions and subchapters.

(v) The specification pages, schedules, or tables.

(vi) Policy language drafted to conform to law or a collectively bargained agreement.

(vii) Policy language which is medical terminology or defined in the policy.

(D) The company shall identify the language exempted under subparagraph (C) of this paragraph and certify, in writing, that the language should be exempted under subparagraph (C) of this paragraph.

(c) Any other reading test may be approved by the Commissioner as an alternative to the Flesch reading ease test if the alternative is comparable to the Flesch reading ease test.

(d)(1) Filings of forms shall be accompanied by a certificate signed by an officer of the company and stating that the form scored successfully on the test or that the score was inadequate but should be approved under § 31-4726.

(2) The Commissioner may require the submission of information to verify the certification described in paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(e) At the option of the company, riders, endorsements, applications, and other forms made part of the policy form may be scored separately or as part of the policy.

(f)(1) A form complying with subsection (a) of this section shall be approved if the form protects policyholders and claimants at least as favorably as laws which otherwise would invalidate the use of the forms.

(2) A policy written in a language other than English and used in the District of Columbia shall be considered in compliance with subsection (a)(1) of this section if the company certifies that the policy has been translated from a policy written in English and complying with subsection (a)(1) of this section.