Choosing a pre-paid legal plan is a good way to save big bucks, but choosing a plan you need and a provider you can trust is a different matter. Here is a number of things to look for in a legal plan from the very start:
Look for what’s covered: Legal plans are offered in different models and differ in the specifics of what they cover. While phone consultation and simple drafting and reviewing of simple contracts are included across the board, more elaborate and complicated legal matters are not covered. It’s best to review your own legal needs before you choose a legal plan. Ask which legal services will you need most and then choose a plan that provides the best coverage given those needs. For instance, if you are a business owner, lawsuits, lease and contract negotiations could be high on your list and you would be looking for a legal plan that provides coverage accordingly.
Know what legal coverage you already have Don’t pay for coverage twice! If you have car insurance, then you are covered for liability and medical protection, home insurance covers you for injuries sustained on your property… Your existing insurance policies already cover some of your legal costs and there is no need to pay for that coverage when you select with a legal plan.
Does the company have an in-house procedure to handle complaints? One of the stumbling blocks of pre-paid legal services is quality of service. Newly-licensed attorneys, phone calls not getting answered and that ointment on any client -lawyer relationship: fee disputes, typically involving bills made to your credit car to cover for services not included in your contract… This is just a specimen of the many problems people face with their plan providers.
Make sure you select a plan that has clear guidelines as to how to settle dispute when they arise. A company that has a good in-house mechanism to handle complaints will generally assign a senior attorney with the authority to handle customer complaints of and disputes with any attorneys in the network. Secondary sources of resolution may include your state insurance department or bar association. Check their outlet for complaints against pre-paid services.
Checking out the business you’ll need to do some homework before you select your legal provider. Ask these questions: What’s the firm’s reputation in my area? How many years have they been in business? Have they been operating in my local area for at least a year without complaints? How skilled are they attorneys? Do they cover the locale where my business operates? Some good places to start your background research are your state bar association, the Better Business Bureau and the Consumer Affairs Office.