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All About Legal Insurance: Tips & Best Policies

If you have a home insurance or business insurance policy, your policy pays for legal fees due to certain types of liability, but coverage limitations can create massive gaps in coverage and leave you with piles of legal bills.

Fortunately, there are a number of legal insurance providers that can help cover the costs where traditional insurance doesn’t provide broad coverage or if you need specialized legal help. Here’s how to choose.

  • Nationwide LegalGuard
  • ARAG Legal Insurance
  • LegalShield
  • LegalZoom
  • Rocket Lawyer

You’ll find legal insurance referred to by several names, including legal protection insurance (LPI), prepaid legal plans (PPL) or legal expenses insurance (LEI). Nomenclature aside, legal insurance can provide coverage for a broad range of legal issues, which might span from simple traffic tickets to adoption assistance or disputes with contractors — and many things in between.

Here are some of the common uses for legal insurance:

  • Traffic tickets
  • Tax questions or representation
  • Bankruptcy or credit problems
  • Consumer protection
  • Injury/damage claims
  • Contract assistance
  • Legal document preparation
  • Estate planning
  • Wills and trusts
  • Buying or selling property

It’s important to know what legal insurance covers and what it doesn’t cover. For example, it’s common to find limitations or exclusions for legal assistance regarding divorce or family law, like custody issues.

You may also find some categories of legal services either aren’t covered or are covered with a reduced fee structure as opposed to services being paid in full. Many plans also require a deductible of up to $250 before services are covered, although some are offered with no deductible.

Coverage tends to be the most complete for consumer protection, real estate issues and legal needs surrounding wills and trusts. For other categories of legal matters, coverage can be more selective, with limitations or exclusions possibly preventing full coverage.

Many plans cover claims for the insured as well as their spouse or domestic partner. Children may also be covered up through age 18; students may have coverage available until age 25 with some plans. Coverage is limited to personal legal needs, however. If your legal matter concerns your business or professional actions, coverage is likely to be excluded.

It’s also common to find a waiting period requirement for certain types of coverage. This waiting period can be as long as 6 months. You might find a waiting period is required for divorce matters, misdemeanors, refinancing or tax audits, which means there is no coverage for these types of legal matters during the waiting period after you purchase your plan.

Some legal insurance plans also provide online learning centers and access to DIY legal documents that are prepared and reviewed by attorneys for accuracy and state-specific compliance in all 50 states.

Most households don’t need a lawyer on a regular basis. However, when you do need an attorney, the cost can be hundreds of dollars per hour and legal fees can add up quickly. Purchasing legal insurance can be an affordable way to reduce legal costs when you do need a lawyer’s help.

Consider the available coverages carefully. If your goal is to provide general consumer protection and contract assistance, a legal insurance plan can be a great value with most plans priced under $1 per day. However, a legal insurance plan may not be much help in contested divorces, custody issues or even DUI cases due to coverage limitations and exclusions.

The average household spends much more each month on gourmet coffee or cable television than the cost of a legal insurance plan, which paints the cost of legal insurance in a different light. View legal insurance for what it is: a limited insurance policy that will cover many legal needs — but maybe not all. If you only use your coverage once, the coverage may have paid for itself in savings.

How Much Does It Cost?

Legal insurance costs less than most life insurance policies and much less than home or auto insurance. Plan costs range from about $0.50 per day up to about $1 per day for most plans. Most providers offer 2 or more plans, with top-tier plans offering more coverages or reduced costs for coverages that aren’t fully paid by the plan.

Learn what’s covered by the plan and compare the coverages to your expected needs. In many cases, without a sizeable difference in cost, the step-level plans may be a better value because entry-level plans have more limitations.

In addition to our selection below, check with your employer to see if it offers legal insurance as a benefit. Many legal insurance providers only bind coverage through brokers or as group coverage plans.

What to Look for in a Policy

Not all legal insurance plans are created equal. High deductibles or a large number of excluded services can put one provider ahead of another when choosing the best legal insurance.

Affordable deductibles. Legal insurance deductibles can range from $0 up to hundreds of dollars. In the latter case, consider the coverages and monthly costs carefully. You may find that most smaller claims aren’t covered at all due to the deductible.

Wide attorney network. Choice is good and a wide network of attorneys makes it more likely that you’ll find a specialist in your area. Some plans even allow out-of-network attorneys, but additional costs may apply.

Broad coverage for different types of legal matters. Some types of legal matters that aren’t covered by one provider may be provided by another — but perhaps with a waiting period requirement. A broad selection means better coverage because you often don’t know beforehand which services you’ll need. Beware of plans that place limitations on all but a few types of legal matters.

Full coverage compared to reduced costs. Some plans only offer reduced pricing and don’t provide full coverage or only provide full coverage for a few types of legal matters. The tradeoff is that discount plans can be more affordable on a monthly basis than full coverage plans.

Nationwide LegalGuard

Nationwide provides two no-deductible plans for individuals, LegalGUARD Advantage at about $17 per month and LegalGUARD Optimum, which is priced at about $24 per month. An $0.85 administrative fee is also billed each month. Both plans offer similar coverage types, and a big difference is that the Optimum plan does not have a waiting period and includes uncontested divorce benefits, a coverage that some other providers shy away from.

Spouses are covered as well, as are dependents up to 19 years old or up to 25 years old if they are full-time students.

LegalGuard offers a mix of full coverage and fixed-rate coverage, depending on your legal need. Living wills, for example, are provided at no additional charge, though there may be a cost for additional documents like power of attorney. Other legal matters like traffic tickets have a flat rate of $89 with the Optimum plan.

ARAG Legal Insurance

With monthly rates similar to those from Nationwide, ARAG also offers two plans at about $17 per month and $25 per month. ARAG has a $250 deductible, after which your plan pays 100% of in-network attorney fees for paid-in-full covered matters.

Coverage levels vary depending on your need. For example, premarital agreement services are available at no extra charge (after deductible), but other marital or cohabitation agreements are offered at a 25% discount to the attorney’s standard fee. Alimony and child support matters are also offered as discounted services, and you can get covered for real estate, consumer protection and estate planning matters.

ARAG’s network of over 14,000 attorneys helps ensure you’ll find expert help in your area to better protect you and your family.

LegalShield

As one of the best-known legal insurance providers, LegalShield offers coverage for a wide range of legal matters. Some types of legal issues are only offered as a discounted service, however, like DUI/DWI, bankruptcy and contested divorce. Some other services may be limited by the number of hours covered, like trial defense representation. The number of covered hours increases with each year of membership, up to a maximum of 300 hours for trial defense.

As with similar plans, your LegalShield individual plan covers the insured member, his or her spouse and dependents in most cases. Only one plan is available for individuals, priced at $24.95 per month, with specialized plans available for business or CDL coverage. Pricing may vary by state.

LegalShield’s network is smaller than some competitors, with less than 1,000 providers listed.

LegalZoom

You may be familiar with LegalZoom as a DIY legal document provider, but LegalZoom also offers an affordable pre-paid legal plan. Available at $9.99 per month for a 12-month commitment or $11.99 per month for a 6-month commitment, you’ll gain access to

LegalZoom’s nationwide network of attorneys, including an unlimited number of 30-minute consultations on new legal matters, free review of short legal documents and a 1-hour annual legal review with an attorney, included with the 12-month plan. Additional legal services are discounted 25% off standard attorney fees.

Rocket Lawyer

Rocket Lawyer provides DIY legal documents similar to LegalZoom but includes many services at no extra charge if you purchase a membership, which also comes with access to Rocket Lawyer’s network of attorneys. Rocket Lawyer’s 7-day free membership is a no-risk way to explore the services available, after which monthly membership costs $39.99. Discounts of up to 40% apply if you hire an attorney from Rocket Lawyer’s on-call network and several extras come with membership, including free business incorporation for new members.

Rocket Lawyer’s 7-day free membership is a no-risk way to explore the services available, after which monthly membership costs $39.99. Discounts of up to 40% apply if you hire an attorney from Rocket Lawyer’s on-call network and several extras come with membership, including free business incorporation for new members.

Legal insurance, like insurance for your home or car, is coverage you hope you’ll never need — but if you do need coverage, choosing the right plan beforehand can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars. It may be impossible to predict which services you’ll need, however, which often makes the legal insurance plans that have the broadest coverage and widest networks worth the extra monthly cost.