Your guide to legal cover

By Staff Writer

You never know when you may need legal advice. Taking out legal cover might be an option, to ensure that you will have the necessary cover when the need arises. But how do you decide which option to choose?
This guide provides a checklist to help you select a legal cover service provider.
The cost of hiring a lawyer can be high, especially if you are going with a large law firm, or one of the better known law firms in the country, such as Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, which is one of the largest law firms in South Africa.
 “Before you start looking at possible service providers, it is important that you are very clear about what your needs are and what you wish to get from your legal cover,” advises Tertius Bossert, head of FNB Law on Call, noted:
Know what is excluded
Before taking out legal cover it is important that you know what is included and excluded in the cover.
“Legal cover should come as close as possible to providing you with a wide range of legal requirements. This includes unexpected legal expense cover, commonly referred to as accidental death benefits, the drafting of tailored contracts such as anti-nuptial contracts, lease agreements and wills as well as investigative services,” says Bossert.
He adds: “It is less than ideal to think that you are covered for a claim or for your whole family only to realise that you are in fact, not. This can be avoided by making sure that you thoroughly understand the exclusions during the sales process.”
When you are applying for legal cover, it is important to ask the right questions, such as what services or options they offer you in the event that the cover you take out does not cover you for a specific event or problem.
“When you have the sales representative on the line, inform them of the main reasons that you are signing up for legal cover to ensure that you get the advice and cover options suitable to your needs,” states FNB.
It is also important to note that when you take out legal cover, it most likely will not cover you for incidents that happened prior to taking out the cover. It is important to speak to your service provider to know whether or not these cases would be covered.
“This stresses the importance of perceiving legal cover as part of your monthly expenses and not only acting on signing up for it when the need arises,” stresses Bossert.
When are you covered?
If your legal cover states that you are covered 24/7, you must make sure that you can access this cover whenever you need it, even if it is the middle of the night. Bossert highlighted that it is important to ensure that “you are able to speak to a dedicated admitted attorney and not a call centre operator.”
Furthermore, FNB adds: “Make sure that the person on the other side of the phone provides you with the service that you are paying for irrespective of whether it is early in the morning, on a public holiday or during the festive season.
“Having legal cover that also covers your family means that they too are able to contact an attorney when they, for example get pulled over late at night. The last thing a parent would want is for their child to phone the legal cover provider and not get the best legal advice possible or only having access to an admitted attorney during office hours.”
The benefit of value-adds
If the option you select includes value-adds, Bossert highlighted that you must not simply accept these, but investigate the matter a little more closely.
“Don’t accept the fact that the provider offers you a value add as a tick on your checklist. Establish whether there are waiting periods on contracts and make sure you are aware of the amount that is offered through the accidental death benefit,” said Bossert.
“While specialised services such as investigative services might not be a daily legal need it is a value-add that will, in the event that it is needed, protect your pocket from unexpected expenses.”
Some final points
Knowing what the claim limits of your legal cover are is important. Bossert points out: “One major legal matter could deplete your annual limit leaving you with no legal cover for the rest of the year. To be safe, you should be signing up for cover that affords you a certain amount per claim as opposed to an annual limit.”
Select a reputable service provider when taking out legal cover. Bossert advises that you look at the track record of the company you are considering to see how they have handled cases in the past.
FNB adds: “In a world where we have an array of options, signing up for more than one service from a single service provider enables you to take better control of your finances. It will also provide you with peace of mind that you are dealing with a service provider that is well known to you.”
Some of the service providers that offer legal cover include:
·         Clientèle Legal
·         Hollard
·         Old Mutual
·         FNB
·         Legal Wise

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