Access to justice: The benefits of Legal Expense Coverage


Maybe you’ve been injured in a fender-bender, or you’re having an ongoing dispute with your neighbour over a shared property line. Or maybe you think you’ve been wrongfully terminated from your job. You may not know whether you have a case worth pursuing — or the funds to hire a lawyer.

That’s the idea behind a new service and additional coverage from Wawanesa that helps you defend or pursue your legal rights should you ever find yourself in an unexpected legal situation. It’s similar to having a lawyer on retainer, without the high costs.

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When faced with a potential legal event, many Canadians are concerned about how much it will end up costing and how they’ll be able to pay for it. After all, a phone call to a lawyer could cost up to $350.

“You might be going through a financial hardship right now, so having to pay for a lawyer on top of that is a lot of pressure,” says Baldwin Diaz Acosta, Manager, Personal Insurance with Wawanesa.

“We want to make sure our policyholders have access to a service that can support them through this process,” he says, “and our Telephone Legal Helpline and Legal Expense Coverage are intended to do just that.”

The approach is two-pronged, with a free helpline and additional paid coverage.

Telephone Legal Helpline

First and foremost, all Wawanesa homeowner, condominium, tenant and mobile homeowner policyholders have unlimited, deductible-free access to a new Telephone Legal Helpline service as part of their policy. Helpline lawyers are available to answer their questions and provide general legal assistance on any legal matter.

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There’s no additional charge for this service, and a customer’s policy won’t be impacted in any way by calls to the helpline. What’s more, you can call as many times as you want — there’s no cap or limit.

The toll-free helpline, available seven days a week, allows policyholders to speak with a legal representative about any legal matter you might be faced with, from civil disputes to automobile accidents. You can ask questions and find out if you have a case that’s worth pursuing — however, it’s important to note that the helpline doesn’t provide legal representation.

Legal Expense Coverage

If policyholders want to take it to the next level, they can purchase Legal Expense Coverage, an optional coverage (per policy) that’s a “one-stop-shop for legal matters,” says Diaz Acosta.

“This coverage protects the insured in the case of an unforeseeable legal event by covering their legal costs and giving them access to qualified lawyers,” he further explains.

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Similar to the helpline service, a policyholder can talk to a legal representative to find out if they have a case worth pursuing. But the coverage takes it a step further. If the claim is accepted, the policyholder will be assigned a qualified lawyer who specializes in the area of law required for the case.

In addition, expenses will be covered up to the insurance coverage limits. Coverage could include the cost of a lawyer, court fees, expert witness fees, reporting fees and other legal disbursements associated with a particular legal event.

Real-world example: Legal Expense Coverage in action

A policyholder with a wrongful termination claim was able to use his legal expense coverage to find out whether or not he had a case worth pursuing. His claim was accepted and he was assigned an employment lawyer.

The result? His severance package was doubled, his post-termination restrictions were removed and he didn’t have to pay roughly $3,500 in legal fees.

In this example, after already dealing with the loss of his job, the coverage made a difference in a practical way. Without paying out of pocket, he could put the past behind and focus on his future.

What is eligible for Legal Expense Coverage?

Insured events that are eligible for the coverage may include:

  • employment disputes
  • contract disputes (personal and auto)
  • legal defence (personal and auto)
  • driver’s license protection
  • property protection (personal and business)
  • tax protection (personal and business)
  • bodily injury

While coverage is available for both personal and commercial policyholders, the commercial coverage is set up differently, so it’s worth an initial consultation with your Wawanesa broker who can walk you through the coverage options.

“Saving money is a huge perk if a legal event does occur,” says Diaz Acosta. But it’s also about peace of mind. “I don’t think anyone ever anticipates they’re going to be faced with a legal matter. Knowing you have someone to call, knowing you have someone to represent you and knowing you’re not alone in this — that’s huge.”

 

For more information or to add Legal Expense Coverage to your policy, contact your Wawanesa Insurance Broker.

 

 


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