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The Last Word
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A travel insurance aggregator awarded a Georgia teacher with $10,000 for reading the fine print in her insurance contract.
  • Lori Chordas
  • June 2019
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Photo Credit: Squaremouth

Home economics and family consumer science teacher Donelan Andrews has a word of advice for her students: Always read everything that you sign your name on.

The 59-year-old teacher from Thomaston, Georgia practices what she preaches, and “it really paid off for me this time,” Andrews said.

Andrews was the winner of a secret contest by Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison site based in St. Petersburg, Florida. The company's “Pays to Read” contest was created to award $10,000 to the first consumer who read through the fine print of his or her travel insurance contract.

“We realize that most travelers don't read their policies from start to finish. Therefore, they often don't have a full understanding of what is covered and what's excluded in their policy,” said Jenna Hummer, director of public relations for Squaremouth. “We launched the 'Pays to Read' contest to remind people to read their policy summary so they can ensure they are getting the exact policy they want, and to show it really can pay to read,” she said.

Beginning on Feb. 11, the company added secret wording at the end of every policy documentation issued by Tin Leg, Squaremouth's travel insurance subsidiary. Tin Leg's policies are underwritten by Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company.

The secret policy wording buried deep in Andrews' seven-page policy summary said: “If you've read this far, then you are one of the very few Tin Leg customers to review all of their policy documentation ... we estimate that less than 1% of travelers that purchase a travel insurance policy actually read all of their policy information ... and we're working to change that.” The policy went on to say that the first person to read that statement should contact Squaremouth so they “may be awarded the 'Pays to Read' contest Grand Prize of ten thousand dollars.” After emailing the company, Andrews received a call the next day telling her she had won.

Squaremouth sold 65 policies after the campaign launched before Andrews purchased her policy. Eight more policies were sold before Andrews contacted the company, said Hummer.

The contest was slated to last 12 months. However, within only 23 hours Andrews read her entire policy summary and claimed the $10,000 prize.

In addition to the prize, Squaremouth donated $10,000 to Reading is Fundamental, the largest U.S. nonprofit organization for children's literacy. The charity has provided more than 400 million books and literacy resources to kids across the country.

Squaremouth was so impressed by Andrews' commitment to her schools that the company also donated $5,000 each to the two Georgia schools where Andrews teaches—Upson-Lee High School and Lamar County High School. The schools plan to use the money to purchase new textbooks and other learning-program supplies.

Reading the fine print in all documents has been a message that Andrews has tried to convey to her students over her 25-year teaching career.

“The contest reminded me of a test question I often used midway through an exam, saying 'If you're reading this, skip the next question,'” she said.

Andrews plans to use her winnings for a trip to Scotland with her husband to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary and her upcoming retirement.


Lori Chordas is a senior associate editor. She can be reached at lori.chordas@ambest.com.


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