Why it’s important to read the small print

A recent survey by Paymentshield revealed that 46 per cent of people failed to read their policy thoroughly, because it was too time consuming, with 31 per cent saying they felt they didn’t need to, 31 per cent admitting it was too complicated, and 25 per cent saying it was too boring.

Most people can probably put their hands up to having done one of these, but why is it so important to read the small print?

Nasty surprises when you claim

The big one: it could invalidate a potential claim.

By not reading the specifics of a policy, and understanding the various stipulations, restrictions and exclusions incorporated in the agreement, you could end up with something that’s not fit for purpose and may think that you’re cover for something that you’re not. This is often the case when purchasing insurance online via comparison sites.

Notoriously price-driven, comparison sites cannot possibly understand all of your specific needs, probe into your circumstances, and carefully select products that suit your needs and requirements.

The danger is, you choose a policy online, download the finer print, and then file it away, without understanding what the agreement provides.

Understand what you’re buying

It might sound simple, but if you don’t read the small print, how on earth will you know what you’ve bought? The policy contains all the particulars of the service or product that you’re signing up to, so just clicking ‘yes I’ve read the terms and conditions’ when you haven’t means you could end up with something that you don’t want or need.

Longer than expected

We see it all too often – people signing something without properly reading into it first only to find out when it’s too late that they’re tied into a contract way beyond the initial term they thought they were agreeing to.

Pay attention to how long the policy lasts for. You may only want to commit to 12 months but could end up with a 24 or 36-month term instead if you don’t pay careful attention.

This is often the case with cheaper policies – the longer you commit, the lower the price – so don’t be fooled by something that appears too good to be true. In a lot of cases, it is!

Out of pocket

Terms and conditions will allow for a cooling off period, or time for you to amend the policy. Make sure you know how long that is, so you don’t end up being tied to something that costs you more than wanted.

Being out of pocket also applies to those extra fees or charges that sit snugly on page 34 of the policy.

Scour every page to ensure you don’t end up paying for hidden extras.

No one size fits all

It might seem like an obvious thing to say but no two policies are the same. Each company, each product or service, will have specific terms that are relevant and exclusive to them.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because you’ve read one that you’ve read them all.

Conspicuous in their absence

While it’s essential to read what’s set down in black in white, it’s equally as important to spot those things that are not included but should be.

If you’re paying for a specific feature, or you’ve agreed to include an additional extra, then make sure it’s part of the small print. 

While all consumer contracts are subject to the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations, this doesn’t mean you can challenge a clause just because you didn’t know it was there, you need to be able to claim that it is unfair. So, whether it’s too boring, or too complicated, make an exception with the small print and understand what you’re signing up. It’ll be time well spent.

Of course you could make your life easier by speaking to a professional when it comes to insurance who can pull out the key elements of the terms and conditions for you and answer any questions you might have.

Content provided by Paymentshield. For more information visit their website www.paymentshield.co.uk