'If It's Easy to Read, It's Easy to Claim' — The Effect of the Readability of Insurance Contracts on Consumer Expectations and Conflict Behaviour
J Consum Policy 2016 (DOI 10.1007/s10603-016-9317-9)
11 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2016
Date Written: March 30, 2016
In the area of financial services, lawmakers and regulators increasingly promote the use of plain language in business-to-consumer contracts. Although such efforts are undoubtedly welcomed by consumers, as they promote better comprehension, not much is known about the actual effects of improved readability on consumer attitudes and cognitive processes. Does improved readability in general contract terms have an impact on the consumer’s perception of their contractual position? Do contracts that are easier to read influence the steps or actions taken by consumers in the wake of conflict? In response to these questions, we present data from an experiment that investigates the relationship between the reading ease of general contract terms on the one hand and consumer expectations and willingness to engage in conflict on the other. Our findings suggest that readability increases the trust and confidence of the consumer in the sense that it increases their expectations of the claim. Moreover, we have found partial evidence to suggest that reading ease also increases the consumer’s willingness to engage in legal action in the case of subsequent claim denial.
Keywords: Plain language, Reading ease, General contract terms, Conflict engagement
JEL Classification: K12, K20, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation