Outrage at 37,000 word car insurance policy

4 May, 2014 8:30am Joe Finnerty

Car insurance policy with more words that Orwell's 'Animal Farm' criticised for being too confusing

The average car insurance policy runs to nearly 18,000 words, with drivers needing to put aside more than an hour of their time to read it all.

Research by Fairer Finance found that Endsleigh was guilty of the most weighty paperwork at 37,674 words – more than George Orwell’s classic novel Animal Farm. Sheila’s Wheels was next on 32,860 words, just above Esure at 32,631. LV ranked lowest with 6,901 words, some way ahead of the next best, Nationwide on 9,302.

Best car insurance companies 2013 to 2014

The 17,896 average word count was calculated from the 40 major insurers analysed by Fairer Finance as part of its campaign to axe unnecessary small print. And it seems reams of paper are being wasted, as the study revealed 73 per cent of people don’t read all of their policy documents. Only 17 per cent of people admitted to understanding it all.

James Daley, founder and managing director of Fairer Finance, said: “If next to no one is reading terms and conditions then what exactly is the point of these documents?” And he added: “If one company can do the job in less than 7,000 words, there’s no excuse for insurers who are producing documents that are five times as long.”

Steve Jenner, a spokesman for the Plain English Campaign, told Auto Express: “The revelation that the ‘small print’ contains more words than a major novel is a disgrace. It is difficult to see this as anything other than a cynical ploy, designed to confuse 
and frustrate the customer.”

Auto Express opinion: another blow for an unloved industry 

The average reading speed for a normal adult is 250 words per minute. That means absorbing Endsleigh’s insurance policy will occupy around two-and-a-half hours of your life.

We would be absolutely amazed if there is a single policyholder in Britain who has made it to the end of this epic document. But should we really be surprised? Sky-high premiums, delayed payouts and incomprehensible terms and conditions mean the reputation of insurers has never been lower.

This latest research from Fairer Finance does nothing to dispel the notion that the industry, far from being on the side of drivers, has a healthy interest in tripping them up.

Have you been caught out by an overly wordy insurance policy? Tell us your experience in the comments section below...

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We need to see an end to this system of compulsory privatised insurance. Its gone beyond all fairness, and young drivers see the worst of it.
If the government introduced a scheme where everybody was insured for third party damage (you'd pay through national insurance/VED etc) It would remove the monopoly these companies have on the motorist. If you want more comprehensive insurance, then you explore them. Then watch the premiums fall...
This is the only solution I think that could end this vile system of "pay up right now, but we won't pay you back if theres even a slight irrelevant discrepancy..

I agree with the previous comments. I was insured by one company last year who wanted all sorts of spurious evidence before they would consider insuring me. They because I then went to another company because I found it well high impossible to meet their stream of demands they demanded the equivalent of 6 months premiums for two months insurance. They did not have the decency to send me any documents for the period. There should be an independent inquiry on the insurance companies - particularly the ones who give the rest of the industry a bad name.

I made an on-line change to my policy that was "allowed" by the on-line tool. It cost me £11. No problem.
Later the company said the change was not allowed (even though it had gone through) and charged me £9 to correct it! I should consider myself lucky (I was told) as it should have been £25! The amounts are low but it was the attitude of "do as we say or we will cancel your policy" etc. that annoyed me.

Any contract, or terms and conditions document longer than 2 sheets of A4 paper or electronic equivalent is too long.

I hope you realise that by subsidising every young driver and every high performance car on the road your premium would jump into 4 figures.
Also, can you imagine a system where you would be trying to claim off some government agency?
And an industry where so many competing companies offer wildly varying premiums is hardly a monopoly.
Please think things through before making silly comments.