I wonder if it was a coincidence that this week's edition (16 December) carried a warning from the FSA regarding policy wordings and John Portwood's letter. While not connected, both highlight a common problem in the market today.

Most customers will not read a policy through, but that has always been the case, and no one expects them to. From my dealings with my own insurances and in my work as a trainer, I find that very few people who are engaged in the business actually read the wordings they use.

This applies equally to point-of-sale operators and to claims handlers. If a feature of cover is referred to and the client asks "where does it say so in the policy?", the answer is usually a prolonged silence as the operator searches the script.

As far as I can see, study of policy wordings is no longer a prerequisite to being able to advise on insurance or to handle claims.

It all seems to be done by summaries and crib sheets or guesswork. The choice of an insurance contract or the interpretation of cover in the event of a claim can have a major impact on a customer's circumstances, yet the industry appears to be happy for this to be done blindfolded.

Roy Rodger FCII
Technical and training consultant