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Legal expenses insurers “in pole position” as customers call for legal services 2.0


Schiltz: insurers have been quick to change

Legal protection insurers are best placed to meet the needs of this new generation of internet savvy, self-directed customers, according to the new president of RIAD – the International Association of Legal Protection Insurance.

Marie-Emmanuelle Schiltz, told the 22nd Congress of RIAD in Prague earlier this month that empowered customers with high expectations are set to be a game-changer for the legal services market.

She said that, unlike the rest of the legal sector, legal protection insurers have already been quick to change and develop lean management processes. She said: “Innovative insurers have been standardising and packaging their service offerings to deliver more value for clients. And the legal protection insurance industry’s smart legal products are also helping to improve access to justice.”

Renowned legal IT guru Professor Richard Susskind was guest speaker at the Congress, and told the 160 delegates that the global economic downturn is accelerating customers’ desire “to secure more legal services at less cost,” and increasing recognition that many current working practices are, “unjustifiably inefficient”.

He added: “If legal protection insurers have an appetite to diversify, I can indeed see them having a legal process management capability.”

Bas van Harten, chief legal operations director at DAS Netherlands, told the event that in the more demanding and price-conscious climate of today, legal protection insurers have been quick to bring a new generation of legal services products to the marketplace. “Our innovations are customer-led; when our customers flag up gaps in the market, we develop flexible and transparent solutions,” he said.

He said legal services customers now demand greater efficiency and shorter response times, as well as more control over the management of their case.

“That’s why we have developed new prepaid products as a logical next step alongside existing insurance solutions. For such prepaid products we have defined the number of events and stages – our customers really appreciate this transparency as well as knowing the costs associated with each stage of the legal process upfront.

“We also offer a growing range of ‘one-stop-shop’ solutions. These include basic notary products, a fiscal advisory service and even a fixed-fee divorce mediation product.

“Our expertise in standardising the legal process means we can offer value for money propositions. For certain legal services, insurers’ in-house lawyers can be 50% less costly than engaging a traditional law firm, while delivering at least the same or even higher quality.”

Ms Schiltz is the first woman to be elected as RIAD president, taking over from DAS UK chief Paul Asplin. She is chief executive officer of Juridica, a French legal protection insurance company.