It turns out that reading the small print on a travel insurance policy pays off in more ways than one. In a recent bid to emphasise the importance of reading policy documents fully, US-based travel insurance comparison site Squaremouth placed ‘secret’ text deep within its outgoing policy information wording, offering the first person to find it a grand prize of US$10,000.
The lucky winner was Donelan Andrews, a consumer economics teacher from Georgia, and it came much to Squaremouth’s surprise that the prize was claimed within the first 23 hours – Squaremouth scheduled the contest to last for a year.
In addition to the $10,000 prize, Squaremouth donated a further $10,000 to Reading Is Fundamental, a children’s literacy charity, and two sums of $5,000 to each of the schools that Andrews teaches at (Upson-Lee High School and Lamar County High School), inspired by her commitment to teaching students to understand the importance of reading things fully.
“Teaching students to read their contracts has always been close to my heart,” said Andrews, “because of my consumer economics background. I always read every contract I sign – it really paid off for me this time! I used to put a question like that midway through my exams, saying ‘if you’re reading this, skip the next question’. Right when I saw the wording, it reminded me of that and intrigued me to keep reading.”
The prize was listed on the final page of the policy, following a line that read: “If you’ve read this far, then you are one of the very few Tin Leg customers to review all of their policy documentation.” Sixty-five people had already signed the contract before Andrews that same day – however, none had read the fine print and so missed out on the grand prize money.
“We launched the Pays to Read contest to remind people to read their policy summary so they can ensure they are getting the policy they want, or cancel their policy for a full refund,” said Squaremouth CEO Chris Harvey.
Squaremouth’s Pays to Read contest identifies a significant problem that the insurance industry faces regarding attitudes towards policy documentation – it’s no great revelation to learn that few people read their policy documents, and this can often lead to misunderstandings at the point of claim, resulting in unwelcome costs and bad blood, which can be as frustrating for the insurer as it is for the insured. That Squaremouth was willing to offer such a large sum of prize money for a seemingly simple task highlights that people continue to recoil at the thought of reading through their insurance policies. However, it also illustrates Squaremouth’s drive to put an end to this. What an innovative idea that will hopefully drive change within the industry, promoting better cover and positive attitudes towards purchasing insurance.