As someone with experience in signing difficult to read contracts, I can confidently say that there’s no greater fear of mine. Living in Germany, you are constantly handed loaded banking agreements and rental contracts, and understanding even half of what they are saying is no easy feat. Plus, you kind of feel like you’re put on the spot. To read and translate an entire contract would take days. Sometimes I wondered whether I was signing over my first born child to Deutsche Bank. Who knows, really? In between the mountain of technical German and oodles of fine print, I didn’t stand a chance.
So you can understand why I might have been happy reading a report from Insurance Business which has slammed insurance companies for their complex and unfair contracts. It’s customers who sometimes suffer the consequences of complex jargon as some insurance companies hide behind intricate disclosure statements.
The home, strata and car insurance industries were called out by the Consumer Action Law Centre, who said that “insurance policies are riddled with terms which, on their face, could be unlawful if unfair contract terms laws applied to insurance.” An inquiry was made before the Senate urging insurance companies to come up with standardised definitions, so that customers across multiple fields are able to understand what’s going on in the fine print.
You can rest assured that there will soon be some changes in the way insurance industries communicate with customers. After all, reading through complex jargon and technical waffle can almost be like hearing someone talk underwater. It may as well be in German.
Words by Skye Jamieson