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...