Ever found it difficult to get through all the T&C’s of a new policy, or have you ever just ignored them because they look too long? You’re probably not alone. Research from comparethemarket.com has found that there are, on average 16,246 words in insurance, credit card and mobile phone policies. Given that it takes us about a minute to get through 300 words, it would take you 54 minutes to read the policy from beginning to end, the equivalent of watching an episode of Game of Thrones.
After looking at a range of terms and conditions from various providers, comparethemarket.com discovered that travel insurance policies were on average the longest, at 26,392 words. Taking us about 88 minutes to read, which is almost as long as watching your favourite footie team play a match. Mobile phone policies were the shortest at 6,306 words; taking around 21 minutes to read or the equivalent of getting stuck into an episode of Coronation Street.
Simon McCulloch, Director of Insurance at comparethemarket.com said:
“Asking customers to read tens of thousands of words before agreeing to the terms of a product is a pretty unreasonable ask. Policy documents spanning upwards of 30 pages are incredibly off-putting and often it might seem much easier to simply tick the box without taking in a single word.
“Terms and conditions contain important information about your policy, including details of excesses, exclusions and premiums. The fine print will be slightly different in each policy so by failing to read their terms and conditions, consumers run the risk of invalidating their policy by accident and potentially having to pay out thousands of pounds when they thought that they were covered.
“It is encouraging to see that many credit card providers, for example, are now displaying summary boxes of the most important information in their policies; a simpler, jargon-free system should be adopted by all companies to ensure that people thoroughly understand what they are signing up for.”
Dr Thomas Webb, a social psychologist at the University of Sheffield and Head of the Institute of Inertia said:
“Lengthy policy documents describing detailed Terms and Conditions can lead people to feel overwhelmed and so they bury their heads in the sand – something that we call “the ostrich problem”. The hope is that the Terms and Conditions do not contain any unwelcome surprises. Although it is the individual’s responsibility to read Terms and Conditions to ensure they do not set themselves up for an expensive problem further down the road, we believe that providers could do more to make these documents accessible, rather than capitalising on peoples’ tendency to avoid reading long documents”
In response to these findings, comparethemarket.com has recommended that all product and service providers aim to make their policies shorter and more accessible. Despite it currently being a length process, remember that these documents contain important information and are there to protect your best interest.