Woman reads fine print, wins $10,000 in hidden contest

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(CBS News) — A self-proclaimed “nerd” from Georgia read the often-ignored fine print on an insurance contract — and it ended up winning her $10,000. Donelan Andrews recently bought travel insurance from a Florida-based company, Squaremouth. Andrews and six of her closest friends are traveling to London together in September, and the high school teacher wanted to secure their trip, she told CBS News.

Andrews says as nerdy as it sounds, she always reads the fine print on contracts, policies and agreements. This time, her diligence paid off. Hidden deep within the text of her Squaremouth insurance policy was a contest to win $10,000. The company buried instructions for claiming the grand prize in the fine print of every Tin Leg Travel Insurance contract.

“If you’ve read this far, then you are one of the very few Tin Leg customers to review all of their policy documentation,” the fine print read. It included an email address and said the first person who replied would win the prize.

It reminded Andrews of an old trick she’s used on her high school students.

“I used to put a question like that midway through an exam, saying ‘If you’re reading this, skip the next question.’ That caught my eye and intrigued me to keep reading,” Andrews said. 

What she read next astounded her — her habit of being meticulous had never won her $10,000 before. 

Squaremouth explained the secretive contest on their website after Andrews won. “We understand most customers don’t actually read contracts or documentation when buying something, but we know the importance of doing so,” the company wrote. “We created the top-secret Pays to Read campaign in an effort to highlight the importance of reading policy documentation from start to finish.”

“Over the past 16 years, we’ve learned that many travelers buy travel insurance and just assume they’re covered if anything goes wrong, without actually reading the details of their policy,” Squaremouth wrote. “However, this often leads to claims for losses that are not covered. This lack of understanding is one of the biggest reasons travel insurance claims are denied.”

Not only did Squaremouth give Andrews the $10,000 she won by being a thorough reader, they also donated another $10,000 to a children’s literacy charity and $5,000 each to two high schools as part of their Pays to Read campaign.

Luckily for Andrews, she’s now well-versed in her travel insurance policy — and she has enough money to plan a second trip. “I am retiring from teaching on May 31, after 25 years,” Andrews told CBS News. “My husband and I are going on a trip to Scotland to celebrate my retirement and our 35th wedding anniversary! This will cover most of that cost! And by the way, I will be purchasing trip insurance!”

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