Access to justice
Legal Assistance and Legal Expense Insurance
Legal assistance and legal expense insurance are two very different products.
While legal assistance offers only over-the-phone advice from a lawyer, legal expense insurance goes much further: the lawyer you choose can represent you in the event of a dispute and your insurer will pay part of the expenses.
The following table sets out the principal features of each.
|Allows you to hire a lawyer to advise you, institute proceedings and represent you in court if necessary
|Only provides information over the phone
|Your choose your lawyer
|Depending on your contract, covers legal fees, experts’ fees and other costs, up to $5,000 / dispute, for an amount of up to $15,000 / year
|Insurance company or broker (related to a home or automobile insurance policy)
|Insurance company or broker
|Approximately $5 / month
|$0 (Usually included as part of other insurance)
Legal expense insurance covers everyday situations
Legal expense insurance can cover a number of everyday situations. Say you have a disagreement with a store owner, landlord, or neighbour. Or you find a latent defect in your home. Or you are treated unfairly at work. Or you are the victim of a medical error. Or you need to have a will probated. As a result of any of these unanticipated events, all of which are beyond your control, you may need to turn to a lawyer, a mediator, an arbitrator or the courts.
Depending on your insurer, most of these situations may be covered by legal expense insurance.
What does legal expense insurance offer?
Coverage varies from one insurer to another. It generally includes the following:
Unlimited legal information and assistance
- To pay the fees of the lawyer you consult over the phone, in most areas of the law.
Financial aid for specific disputes
- To pay the fees of the lawyer you choose, including disbursements (photocopies, travel), experts’ fees (opinions of experts) and court costs (filing of proceedings).
Financial aid for specific mandates when there is no dispute
- To pay the fees of a lawyer given a mandate related to settling an estate or protecting an individual.
How much coverage does legal expense insurance provide?
The coverage can go up to $5,000 per case and up to $15,000 per year. Only your insurer can provide you with the exact amounts.
There is generally no deductible to be paid, but certain insurers require a financial participation by the insured ranging from 20% to 25% of the expenses.
The insurance policy comes into effect 60 days after it is issued.
How much does legal expense insurance cost?
The costs vary depending on the insurer and the type of coverage chosen.
For individual or family coverage, the cost ranges from $60 to $100 per year.
For small businesses, firms of professionals or self-employed workers, the cost is approximately $300 per year.
How do you purchase legal expense insurance?
Contact your broker or insurer.
The Barreau does not sell legal expense insurance.