I’ve been investigating how clear insurance policy documents really are. It may sound dull, but those 60 pages of small print could hold a clause that invalidates your claim. Have you ever been tripped up by small print?
I’ve spent a lot of time recently looking through insurance policy documents – and I’m not even suffering from a chronic case of insomnia! I’ve been trying to understand how clear car, home and travel insurance policy documents are, and whether there are any surprises and stipulations in the small print.
The NeverEnding policy documents
The policy documents I’ve been looking at often reach 50 or 60 pages long. Flick through four or five of these and it’s the equivalent of reading a short novel. Fair enough, insurers will have regulatory obligations, but the examples I’ve looked at can seem impenetrable, while the important stuff isn’t always obvious.
We’re always told we must read the policy documents to be clear about the cover we’re buying, but couldn’t insurers make them a little more succinct? After all, how many of us can be reasonably expected to read every word of the document?
Insurers feel they have to cover every eventuality; you never know when you’re going to be a victim of radioactive contamination, a sonic bang or caught up in a pesky war – but some of the small print in policy documents does seem a little strange.
For example, the Direct Line car insurance policy makes a point of warning against using your car on the Nurburgring Nordschleife race track, in case you were ever tempted. And other policies won’t cover damage to your car ‘in any area where aircraft are normally found to be landing, taking off, moving or parked’. Does this include the long-stay car park at Gatwick?
It’s all in the small print…
For many insurance policies, there are lists of exclusions which seem designed to create a grey area, allowing insurance companies to question a claim. For example, some insurers are pretty strict on your alcohol limit in order for emergency medical claims on your travel insurance to be valid.
Have you read through policy wording for your car, home or travel insurance and found it difficult to digest? Or have you ever had an insurance claim turned down thanks to an unexpected term or exclusion in your policy you didn’t know about?