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5 Questions to ask when choosing a legal plan

The workplace is fast becoming the center of financial wellness. MetLife’s 15th Annual Employee Benefit Trends Study showed that 62% of employees are now looking to their employers for more help in achieving financial security through employee benefits, up from 54% in 2016. MetLife’s EBTS also shows that a third of employees are living paycheck to paycheck. With the average cost of one hour of an attorney’s time sitting at more than $300 an hour, encountering an unexpected legal issue could present significant financial stress for many employees. Dealing with these matters, which can come up as employees are acting as caregivers, sending kids off to college, considering adoption or buying or selling a home, can be stressful and time consuming for employees. Voluntary group legal plans empower employees to deal with their personal legal matters quickly and affordably, relieving the stress and expense of dealing with legal matters, and ultimately engaging employees by meeting their needs. So, the question becomes not “Should I offer my employees a legal plan?” but “Which legal plan should I offer?” As you assess the options, here are five simple questions to ask:

1. Are services fully covered?

MetLife’s legal plan research found that employers most often selected a legal plan carrier based on three criteria: affordability for employees (43%), Necessary legal coverages for their employees (41%) and large area of coverage (32%). From wills and estate planning to identity theft, real estate issues and elder care matters, a legal plan should cover employees for the many legal issues they face throughout different stages of their life. In order for your employees to get the assistance they need for legal matters, services should also be fully covered from beginning to end, including trial representation. Before choosing a provider, check to see if the plan offers partial coverage on any legal services. If so, steer clear. Partial coverage can result in out-of- pocket costs, usage limitations and frustration for employees.

2. Is there a limit to services?

A majority of employers, 84%, cited having easy access to legal services as one of the top benefits of a legal plan for their employees. Employees should never be penalized for using their legal plan or face hour limits, page limits or frequency restrictions for matters that are covered in their plan. They should be able to use the plan as much as they need over the course of the year for covered legal matters.

3. Does the plan let employees choose an attorney?

According to the MetLife research, one of the top concerns cited by employers that do not currently offer a legal plan was that the quality of attorneys in the network would be poor. By offering employees access to a large network of thousands of attorneys across the country, and by giving them the option to use an out-of-network attorney, you can be sure that employees will be able to see an experienced attorney for their legal matters. Truly flexible plans enable employees to work with attorneys they trust outside of the plan and get reimbursed for services. Employees shouldn’t be assigned to an attorney and should be able to choose any attorney – inside the plan’s network or outside of the network. 

With the average cost of one hour of an attorney’s time sitting at more than $300 an hour, encountering an unexpected legal issue could present significant financial stress for many employees.

4. Does the provider offer best-in-class customer service?

Employees should never feel stuck with an attorney or be left alone to deal with an issue. Employees should have access to Customer Service Representatives who can quickly assist them with their issues and/or help them find a new attorney if necessary. Check into the provider’s track record regarding customer service when making plan decisions. You are likely putting in place a plan to relieve employees’ stress. A poor customer service experience can undermine that goal.

5. Does the plan offer a money-back guarantee?

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A money-back guarantee is the ultimate quality control measure for employee satisfaction. To ensure the legal plan works for your employees, choose a provider that offers a money-back guarantee that covers customer service issues. The answers to these five questions can help you determine which legal plan provider offers the best option for your employees. By ensuring that the plan provides the necessary legal coverage for employees’ needs, as well as easy access to attorneys and high-quality service, you can be assured that employees will get the legal support they need, reducing stress and financial hardship, and ultimately creating more productive, engaged and loyal employees. 

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