Let’s face it, insurance policy T&Cs aren’t top of anyone’s reading list. But when they’re longer than George Orwell’s Animal Farm, it’s no surprise we want to skim-read them. Or avoid them altogether.
I’ve spent a lot of time recently looking through car, home and travel insurance policy documents to assess them for clarity, length and layout.
We’re always told to read the terms and conditions to be clear about the cover we’re buying, but too often we’re left with the unenviable task of trawling through documents more than 50 pages long.
Insurance T&Cs are a never-ending story
We looked at 40 car, home and travel insurance policies. The longest we found was Admiral’s travel insurance document, which runs to 38,248 words. That’s longer than George Orwell’s Animal Farm or John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. And based on the national average reading speed of 300 words a minute, it would take me just over two hours to get through it.
Sentence length can also be an issue. The Plain English Campaign recommends sentences up to 20 words, but one sentence in Saga’s travel insurance policy stretches to 95 words.
Before I could even remotely understand this sentence, I had to keep going back to the beginning to read it over and over again. Experiences like this are enough to stop anyone from reading (and, crucially, understanding) the whole thing.
T&Cs should be shorter
Some insurers are getting it right by producing shorter policy documents. For example LV’s car insurance policy managed to do it in just under 7,000 words and 21 pages. So, if they can do it, why aren’t the other insurers doing the same?
The Financial Conduct Authority put companies on notice to simplify their policy documents, so hopefully we’ll be spending less time trying to tackle lengthy T&Cs in the not-too-distant future. You should be able to easily understand what you’re signing up to so you don’t get stung when you make a claim.
Have you read through the terms of your insurance and found it difficult to digest? Did it stop you from reading it in full? Perhaps you’ve had an insurance claim turned down due to an unexpected term or exclusion in your policy you didn’t know about?