Legal insurance can be extremely helpful and save most people a lot money. But if you’re shopping for a legal insurance plan, it’s important to pay attention to the fine print and make sure you’re getting what you pay for.
But first, what is legal insurance? Legal insurance or a legal protection plan works a lot like health insurance. You pay a monthly premium, usually around $20 to $30 a month, and when you need legal help, you’re able to access a network of qualified lawyers to deal with your problem. When your legal issue is taken care of, the insurance plan pays the lawyer directly, and you don’t have to pay the high hourly rate you lawyer would typically charge.
Does it sound to good to be true? Well, it can be. It’s important to read the fine print. If you’re looking for a legal insurance plan, here are four things you should ask before signing up:
Is there a deductible?
Just like your health insurance, some legal insurance plans require you to pay a deductible. So while you think your legal costs will be taken care of with your premium, you still may end up shelling out a few hundred dollars to pay for your deductible when legal trouble arises.
Be sure to ask if the deductible is a one time cost for your plan year, or if you have to pay it every time a legal issue comes up. Make sure you weigh the cost of this deductible when comparing plans. Some plans may look cheaper by the month, but if you have to pay a deductible every time you have a legal problem, it won’t save you much.
How big is your attorney network?
Does your legal plan offer a wide-ranging attorney network
? Before you sign up, make sure that there are lawyers in your area that offer the kinds of services you need.
Some legal insurance plans only have one or two lawyers for the entire state! That means you may end up driving for hours to meet with an attorney, and you don’t have much choice in who you go with.
Other legal insurance plans have more choices when it comes to attorneys. When you’re choosing an attorney, it’s important that you go with someone you trust, and having a wide range of choices ensures you can find someone who you feel good about representing you.
Are you a For-Profit or Non-Profit?
Just like other businesses, legal insurance plans can be for-profit or non-profit entities. Be sure to ask a legal insurance plan what kind of business they are.
Of course, just because a business is for-profit doesn’t mean they’re out to take your money, just like a non-profit isn’t automatically more trustworthy. But it can give you an indicator of what kind of service you might receive and what the goal of the business is. Either way, it’s important that you know what kind of company you’re giving your hard-earned money to.
Is this a discount plan?
Some legal insurance plans act like they’re going to pay your legal costs, when really they’re just a discount card. You may pay a monthly premium, but all you’ll get when you need legal help is a percentage off of your legal bill.
That’s why it’s important to take a look at the coverage certificate for the legal plan and see how much they cover. Look for words like, “covered in full,” or the amount of hours a plan pays for different legal issues. Avoid plans that simply offer a discount with particular lawyers. They won’t end up saving you much money in the long run.
A legal protection plan can save you a lot of money and provide the peace of mind that legal help is there when you need it. But it’s important to shop around when purchasing legal insurance. Asking the right questions and reading the fine print can ensure you get the best plan available to you and the best legal protection.