The Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) took part in a research project conducted by Perspectus Global on insurance, justice and the legal system in Great Britain.
The research found that whilst the British people are well aware of the importance of the justice system, nearly half (42 per cent) have no idea of the fundamental difference between the civil justice system and the criminal justice system.
It appears that lack of faith or understanding in institutions such as the law filters down and means Britons lose confidence in all manner of parts of the economy they interact with on a regular basis – including financial services and insurance.
The study also revealed a perceived failure of insurance companies to support the public in their hour of need, for example when they need to make a claim, despite a significant financial outlay on their products. On average, Britons each spend £882 a year on insurance - around 25 billion a year in total.
However, many premium holders don’t know what they are covered for and what they are not, putting them at the mercy of claims processes which may focus on cost cutting and rejecting claims rather than providing the support consumers deserve – and have paid for.
Improving trust in insurance may help bridge the gap between how important consumers think such products are compared with how many people take policies out, for instance to protect their homes or ensure their motor cover is fully comprehensive. Improved pricing transparency could help people understand what they are getting and the value it represents.
Moreover, public legal education – alongside better understanding of how financial services operate – will be beneficial and ensure that service providers are encouraged to up their game.
Meanwhile the language that all professionals use, be they insurers, lawyers, the government or anyone else, needs constantly to be improved to help make it more consumer friendly and make ‘small print’ easier to digest.