Confusing insurance documents are longer than books


Three-quarters of home and car insurance customers don’t bother to read the small print of their policies – and of those who do, less than a fifth say they understand the jargon.

Most insurance customers say the do’s and don’ts that come with their policies are too lengthy– and to prove the point a consumer has counted the words.

Endsleigh, Sheila’s Wheels, Esure and M&S Bank have detailed documents that come with their policies that are more than 30,000 words long, according to the consumer group Fairer Finance.

As a comparison, says the group, George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm is shorter. The longest is Endsleigh’s terms and conditions of more than 37,000 words, which beats the word count for Joseph Conrad’s, book Heart of Darkness.

The most concise insurance terms are written by LV=, which runs to just 6,900 words.

To give an idea of just how much reading 37,000 words comes to, an average A4 sheet printed in Time roman 11 point – the standard type size for a word processor – is 600 words, which makes the Endsleigh terms around 62 pages of reading.

In paperback, which is half the size of A4, the Endsleigh terms are around 128 pages of jargon.

As a result of the word count, the consumer group wants insurance companies to revisit their terms and conditions and rewrite them in simpler language that customers will find easier to understand.

The call comes after asking 2,000 people about their understanding of insurance documents. Only 27% admitted to reading them in full and 17% agreed they understood what they said.

James Daley, of Fairer Finance, said: “If hardly anyone is reading terms and conditions, and even those who do are struggling to understand them, then what is the point of these documents?

“Customers should know what’s covered and what isn’t by their insurance, but if one company can do the job in less than 7,000 words, there’s no excuse for those producing documents five times longer.”

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One Response to Confusing insurance documents are longer than books

  1. The T&Cs of most insurance policies wouldn’t pass the clear English test and arguably are designed to put customers off reading them all.

    If you find a plain speaking insurer, check your policy schedule and that is the most many will ever do. The challenge should be to detail the whole lot in under 500-words. That is manageable.

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