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News: Insurers' small print slammed for going on and on and on...

Consumer group Fairer Finance counted the number of words in a range of motor insurance documents and found that some rival the great classics for length.


Checking Smallprint

IF YOU think your car insurance policy looks as long as a novel, you’re probably right.  Consumer group Fairer Finance counted the number of words in a range of motor insurance documents and found that some rival the great classics for length.

Topping its poll of wordiest policies is the one produced by insurer Endsleigh. It contains 37,674 words, almost as many as Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (38,098). It is closely followed by the policy document for Sheila’s Wheels which has 32,860 words, not many more than the 29,966 words George Orwell required for his great satirical novel, Animal Farm.

A spokesman for Endsleigh said, “Endsleigh is a broker operating a panel of insurers. As such, it operates a common policy wording, which is designed to meet the requirements of the whole panel.”

Fairer Finance found that in contrast, some insurers can reduce their policy wording to the length of a novella. For example, the policy produced by the insurer LV contains 6,901 words.

The scale of the small print in documents is putting policy holders off reading it, says the consumer group. It is campaigning for clearer and more concise wording.

James Daley, the managing director of Fairer Finance, said, “If next to no one is reading terms and conditions, what is their point? It’s important customers know what is and is not covered by their insurance but if one insurer can do the job in less than 7,000 words, there’s no excuse for insurers producing documents that are five times as long.”

 

The bits you should read:

Statement of facts This is what you told the insurer about you and your car. Check it’s all accurate

Excesses Make sure you know your compulsory and voluntary excess amounts

Term It helps to know when your insurance begins and ends

Policy number and claims telephone numbers Make a note of both

Exclusions Make sure you understand what is not covered, so you don’t leave yourself open