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Thu 23 May 2019 08:05 AM

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Over 50% of UAE residents overlook financial fine print, says study

The fine print in a financial product, which often times carries more weight than the offer itself, is designed to be overlooked, writes Ambareen Musa, CEO and founder of Souqalmal.com

Over 50% of UAE residents overlook financial fine print, says study
Ambareen Musa, CEO and founder of Souqalmal.com

Fine print, small print, terms and conditions – vall them what you may – yhese wordy and legalese-ridden documents can often dull the sparkle on seemingly great financial products and offers.

Unfortunately, over half of UAE residents ignore the terms and conditions mentioned in their financial product contracts.

A recent study conducted by Souqalmal.com tried to scale the worth of fine print associated with financial products among UAE residents.

The fine print in a financial product, which often times carries more weight than the offer itself, is designed to be overlooked. The results of the survey revealed that over half of the 4000 partaking individuals fall into the trap.

Specifically, the survey revealed that only 46 percent of the respondents bother to read through the complete list of terms and conditions before signing up for a financial product like a credit card, loan or insurance.

Of the remaining, 29 percent just speed-read through the small print while 25 percent skip it altogether.

The one-click culture of today has a powerful appeal in that it saves time, effort and provides the satisfaction of getting things over in a single click.

Unfortunately, it makes you disregard the particulars in the contract by making them appear tedious and insignificant.

But knowing what you are approving when you check the ‘I agree’ box is actually pretty important. To get a full picture of your agreement, you need to look beyond just the highlights. This is crucial not only to find out exactly what you’re getting but also to understand if there are any gaps to fill.

The fine print outlines everything from contractual rules, benefits, limitations and exclusions for insurance products, schedule of fees and charges for banking products, offer terms and conditions for deals and promotions and a lot more. The small print in a cashback credit card, for instance, would tell you that there is a cap on the amount of cashback you can accrue in a month.

Additionally, it may come as a rude surprise that your auto insurance policy does not cover mishaps to your modified vehicle if you ignore your policy document wordings. The fine print essentially exists to protect your rights and the rights of your product issuing authority.

The problem with the fine print

Not surprisingly, 67 percent respondents of our survey claimed that the terms and conditions of their financial documents were too long and complicated. Also, the legal jargon makes it difficult for them to comprehend the particulars.

82 percent of the respondents believe that banks and insurers are to blame for making the document wordings too complex for the average person to understand. Although banks firmly comply with the regulation of making fine print available to its customers, nothing has been achieved in terms of simplifying the language. It is a fact that the specifics are more often than not thoroughly and deliberately obscure. Organizations try to get away with hiding details in plain sight.

Cracking the terms and conditions

For terms and conditions of a document to be of any value to the average consumer, it is inevitable that the language be simplified, financial and legal jargon eliminated, and the content made concise and straightforward.

This is where Souqalmal.com steps in. The financial comparison portal aims to precisely and briefly explain the specifications of every insurance policy and financial document for its users.

From clarifying what an insurance cover may or may not include, the implications of a missed loan instalment to the calculation of interest on your credit card, it covers all the ins and outs.

Ambareen Musa, CEO and founder of Souqalmal.com

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