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Wales On Sunday - - NEWS -

IN­SUR­ANCE pol­icy doc­u­ments can re­quire uni­ver­sitylevel read­ing abil­i­ties and even in­dus­try ex­perts strug­gle to cut through the jar­gon, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion sug­gests.

Which? used read­abil­ity soft­ware to ex­am­ine the length of words and sen­tences in 40 pol­icy doc­u­ments from 10 ma­jor car, home, pet and travel in­sur­ers to es­ti­mate how well-ed­u­cated a reader needs to be to un­der­stand them.

It said the av­er­age doc­u­ment was more chal­leng­ing to read than Stephen Hawk­ing’s A Brief His­tory Of Time and Dos­to­evsky’s Crime And Pun­ish­ment, so could cause prob­lems for 43% of adults with a read­ing abil­ity of GCSE grade C or be­low.

In a sep­a­rate snap­shot in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the con­sumer group found that a re­tired in­sur­ance pro­fes­sional, civil ser­vants and soft­ware en­gi­neers were un­able to an­swer all ques­tions about two pol­icy doc­u­ments cor­rectly.

It asked 24 peo­ple to read home and travel pol­icy doc­u­ments from six in­sur­ers and an­swer a num­ber of ques­tions such as how to make a claim and re­port a change in cir­cum­stances to test if they were prac­ti­cal to use.

On av­er­age, par­tic­i­pants an­swered five out of 16 ques­tions in­cor­rectly when re­view­ing the travel in­sur­ance doc­u­ments and three out of 12 in­cor­rectly on the home in­sur­ance doc­u­ment.

Which? said it be­lieved pol­i­cy­hold­ers should be able to an­swer all ques­tions cor­rectly be­cause any er­rors or mis­con­cep­tions could leave them thou­sands of pounds out of pocket.

Which? Money ed­i­tor Ceri Stan­away said: “It is wor­ry­ing the pol­icy doc­u­ments are of­ten far too com­plex for the av­er­age cus­tomer to un­der­stand, as our in­ves­ti­ga­tion sug­gests.”

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