Insurance T&Cs as long as novels

Insurance T&Cs as long as novels

Insurance terms and conditions have become so lengthy they rival short novels in terms of wordcount, data from Fairer Finance has found.

According to the figures, life insurance, critical illness and mortgage cover documents can reach over 24,000 words in length - the same level of words in novellas.

Of the three policies with the highest word counts, one is from Aegon and the other two are from Zurich. 

Aegon's life insurance product boasts a hefty 24,758 words, followed by Zurich's level protection cover at 24,102 and its decreasing mortgage cover, at 21,271 words long.

By way of comparison, Financial Adviser's research has found Richard Matheson's apocalyptic horror novella I Am Legend comes in at 25,204 words, while Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea is just over 26,600 words and George Orwell's seminal political satire, Animal Farm, is 29,966 words long.

A spokesperson for Zurich commented: "Some of our older protection policies do have lengthy T&Cs reflecting their complexity."

However, she added: "We’ll be addressing this through the launch of our new protection platform in the coming months with a focus on providing customers with simplicity.

"This includes reviewing our T&C’s and making them more customer friendly."

The spokesperson explained that, while T&Cs have a legal function, forming a contract with the customer, they do need to provide clarity and certainty about what’s included in different products. 

She added: "We’re reducing word count and making them more accessible by introducing simple tables and a more readable format. We’ll also be producing T&Cs for specific products, rather than generic ones to cover all, which will provide customers with all of the information they need."

An Aegon spokesperson said: “The word count of a particular document is not a reliable measure of whether customers have access to the information they want or need. We always aim to produce clear communications and summarise information for the reader where possible. 

"T&Cs documents are by their nature there to provide detail and with an advised proposition like ours, customers are receiving a recommendation to take out a policy based on the knowledge and experience of their adviser who will have a detailed understanding of features and terms of different providers.”

While life, critical illness and income protection are long enough, even worse are the T&Cs for general insurance - especially considering how the vast majority of general insurance products are sold direct to consumers without the helpful intervention of a financial adviser who can explain the finer points.

According to the Fairer Finance data, seen by Financial Adviser, NFU Mutual's home insurance policy is a whopping 40,831 words long.