BY EMILY ROSE
AS A SOCIETY, we all learned important lessons about tech, work, relationships, and health amid the coronavirus pandemic, but for millions of individuals and families across America and Canada, two specific takeaways became more significant than ever:
- Legal protection and support are invaluable in everyday life and especially during trying economic and social times; and
- Daily priorities and communications are made safer and more convenient when they are contactless.
In a time when suddenly everyone and everything became more vulnerable, utilization of the LegalShield voluntary benefit plan reached an all-time high.
Thousands of employees that were enrolled in the plan used it to protect their families and assets in the event the worst were to occur. They also dealt with landlord/tenant issues, billing disputes, obtained assistance with credit reports and repair, payday/title loans, and other consumer finance matters.
The soaring value of virtual professional services
Sheltering in place and social distancing dramatically curtailed, or in many cases, put a complete stop to in-person visits to professional service providers, like doctors, accountants and lawyers. Many people simply decided to hold off indefinitely on these important activities even though some were needed more than ever.
LegalShield, which next year will celebrate its 50th anniversary, has long been in a position to deliver services virtually. Over the last decade, our business model has enabled employees to:
- Receive counsel from provider attorneys via virtual meetings and phone calls on a wide range of personal legal matters including 24/7 emergency access to network
- Upload documents for attorney review via the LegalShield mobile app. These include documents related to taxes, contracts, traffic matters, leases, estate planning, and more.
- Easily create estate planning documents, such as Living These trends in utilization have led to further development in our mobile app with new capabilities being added to make the participant experience more personalized and convenient.
“LegalShield’s enhanced mobile app puts a law firm in the palm of your hand. It enables members to obtain legal assistance at the push of a button and is free and available via Google Play and the App Store.”
Meeting employees where they are
LegalShield meets employees where they are, not the other way around. Beyond mobile app and website accessibility, we’ve accommodated employees’ requests for service whether in person or via phone or video conferencing long before the global pandemic experienced in 2020. We are committed to partnering with our provider firms to ensure that we continue to enhance our service delivery to make sure when our plan participants need us, we are there.
For example, as the need for remote online notarization began to emerge in response to shelter in place orders, LegalShield responded immediately. We monitored the situation on the state level, in real-time, and added this service to ensure compliance as each state determined executive orders around the use of video or electronic notarization.
LegalShield’s 2020 year-end services request data highlights the increased need for pre-paid legal services:
- We saw the highest number of requests since March 2011 — a nearly 26% year-over-year
- Landlord/Tenant-related services increased by 22% last year as landlord liability related to the pandemic came under scrutiny, and widespread job losses prevented millions of tenants from paying
- The Estate Planning category saw a 26% increase over 2019, as Americans faced new pandemic-related uncertainties and sought solutions to ensure peace of mind for themselves and their
- Services in the Family Law category increased by 22% as families fundamentally restructured due to children’s education shifting to remote learning, and the need increased
to address other strains that were introduced by the events of 2020.
The need for contactless legal protection continues to climb in 2021
Now that society is opening back up, the need for legal services has not abated. In March, LegalShield saw significant increases in requests for services in other areas of law as employees navigate their way in the “new normal”:
- Traffic-related requests experienced a 23% month-over-month increase, as members got back on the road commuting to work and traveling for pleasure.
- Small business legal services were at their highest level since 2007 as Main Street and home-based entrepreneurs sought help to form LLCs, establish trademarks, obtain patents, and explore franchises and other types of contracts. Small business legal services have increased by 21% month-over-month and nearly 50% year-over-year.
- Real estate-related requests were the highest we’ve seen since early 2017, as members bought and sold property, and refinanced their existing These requests increased more than 23% month-over-month and 43% year-over-year. (Note: LegalShield’s real estate data is seasonally adjusted to sync with the annual real estate transaction cycle.)
- Consumer finance legal services increased nearly 22% month-over- month and 26% year-over-year as members continued to deal with matters related to insurance, taxes, banking, vehicle financing and loan
Contactless legal services won’t stop after the pandemic is over
The pandemic has reshaped much of everyday life activity, including how employees work and handle their personal affairs. Most companies have decided against returning to 100% in-person communications. Consumers expect to maintain the option to receive service in person or from the convenience of their own homes.
The need for contactless legal services continues to increase
as individuals and families face post-pandemic legal matters, such as consumer finance, vaccination considerations, travel-related issues, and matters related to children and childcare. LegalShield is working diligently to continue the successful execution of the contactless service delivery model we introduced nearly a half-century ago and will continue to enhance the member experience and overall satisfaction — not only as the result of the legal matter but throughout the entire service experience.
EMILY ROSE is the SVP of Sales for LegalShield’s Business Solutions Division. Rose has over 15 years of experience in the voluntary benefits space, including group legal plans, identity
theft protection plans, supplemental health and property, and casualty. She can be contacted at proposals@ legalshieldcorp.com