Canadian Insurer ICBC Awards $4.5M Phone Interpretation Contract

British Columbia’s motor vehicle agency, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), not to be confused with China’s largest bank also named ICBC, recently launched a new phone interpretation service specifically for Cantonese or Mandarin-speaking customers. Winnipeg-based CanTalk won the $4.5 million contract to provide interpretation services to ICBC over the next five years.

ICBC provides public auto insurance in British Columbia and also handles driver licensing and vehicle registration and licensing. The new direct line will assist Cantonese and Mandarin-speaking customers with their enquiries related to insurance claims and licensing.

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Cantonese and Mandarin are two of the three most requested languages by ICBC’s customers. Together with Punjabi, these three languages account for 75 percent of all interpretation inquiries to ICBC. ICBC launched its direct phone line for Punjabi-speaking customers back in 2013.

ICBC says that phone interpretation requests have tripled to over 441,000 requests in 2014. Using that figure and the dollar amount of the contract given by Richmond News, CanTalk would earn around $2 per request. Aside from Punjabi, Cantonese, and Mandarin, ICBC makes the bold claim that they provide over-the-phone interpretation services in 170 languages.

Apart from deal wins, Canadian phone interpretation services made news of a different sort recently when CBC News shone the spotlight on the plight of freelance interpreters who were having trouble with payment delays from Ontario-based Able Translations.

Gerard Castañeda

Research Associate for Slator.com. Runs, bikes, and climbs mountains for fun.