Buyers of car insurance are ending up inundated with paperwork that is long enough to rival whole novels for word count. Although this might keep their lawyers busy and ensure that policies are as watertight as they can be, it is virtually impossible for ordinary consumers to understand the full extent of these contracts.
Sadly no one has yet taken up the challenge of turning the finer details of car insurance policies into feature films that can be watched at leisure in a digestible and entertaining format. Therefore consumers are effectively buying blind other than to the most prominent terms.
This of course begs the question whether large quantities of impenetrable legalese really sit comfortably with consumer protection legislation.
How Long is Too Long?
Ok, so a comparison with Lord of the Rings trilogy may be a slight exaggeration of the problem but website Fairer Finance found a number of motor insurance policy providers that produced documents with over 30,000 words including Endsleigh, Sheila's Wheels, Esure and M&S Bank. Endsleigh provided the wordiest terms and conditions with a grand total of 37,674 words. In stark contrast LV managed to keep their small print to less than 7,000 words.
Not only is a 30,000 word insurance policy document comparable to a novella or short story but for all but the most patient readers it is likely to be unfathomable. The thought of wading through that much legal jargon is unlikely to inspire most ordinary people to start turning pages. This idea is backed by a Fairer Finance survey of 2,000 consumers that suggests less than a third actually read terms and conditions.
Furthermore, the assumption that most drivers will not need to rely upon their policy over the course of the year may provide a further disincentive.
Making Terms and Conditions Accessible for Consumers
The terms and conditions that are incorporated into insurance contracts are an important part of the product. It is therefore concerning from a consumer protection perspective that the majority of buyers do not know what they say because they contain the details of both the rights and the obligations that apply to the insured.
In the event of a motoring accident it can be important that drivers understand what they need to do at the time when they might not have access to their actual policy documents. For example, most motoring policies require that drivers do not admit any liability before notifying their insurer of the claim even if they felt an accident was clearly their fault. A simple admission could invalidate the entire policy.
Although reputable insurers are less prone to relying on minor technicalities in the small print to avoid payouts, this can and does still happen. Complying with the finer details is therefore important. For specialist advice regarding insurance claims contact Peter Gourri today by email PGourri@rollingsons.co.uk or telephone 0207 611 4848.