In today’s changing employment landscape, retaining your best employees requires providing them with access to a number of benefits that they could not access on their own. One of these benefits is the ability to participate in a group legal services plan. The Group Legal Services Association (GLSA) is a nonprofit organization committed to expanding access to quality legal services through increasing awareness of and access to group and prepaid legal services plans.
Legal Service Plan Overview
Although legal service plans have been available for decades, their existence has not been widely publicized and few employers know that they can offer their employees legal peace of mind as part of their benefits packages. The term Prepaid Legal Services Plan has been used for any type of arrangement which establishes a fund of money in the present which is used to pay legal fees for services required by plan contributors in the future. The term is used synonymously with “group legal plan”, “legal expense insurance”, “legal services benefit plan” and others.
A brief explanation of the types of plans:
1. Prepaid Access Plans: The prepaid access plan combines prepayment for advice and consultation with a fee for services benefit. The term access is used to describe the primary purpose of the plan, which is to provide easy access to a lawyer for legal advice and other preventive services. The basic service is generally legal advice and consultation by telephone. Basic service may also include office consultations, preparation and review of simple legal documents and short letters written by a lawyer to an adverse party. If additional services are necessary, the plan member is referred to an attorney, usually other than the attorney answering the telephone, who has agreed in advance to provide such services at discounted fees. Such plans are typically offered by employers as a benefit, through a group legal services plan or as part of an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP).
2. Comprehensive Group or Prepaid Legal Plans: Other plans operate much like health insurance plans in that the consumer or consumer along with the employer pays a monthly or annual premium for access to the covered legal services when the need arises. While the covered services vary among plans, most cover unlimited telephone consultations with participating attorneys, as well as document review, preparation of wills, consumer and family matters, and some traffic related cases.Once the fee has been paid, benefits are available as stated in the plan document at no additional charge, except for deductibles and co-payments which may apply in certain situations depending upon the plan.
3. Discount Legal Plans: These plans may be available through an employer or professional organizations. The member has access to a group plan that entitles them to consult with a participating attorney and obtain legal services at a discounted, pre-negotiated rate with the participating lawyers.
What are the Benefits of a Legal Services Plan?
At GLSA, we believe that everyone should have access to affordable legal representation, unfortunately, most people can’t afford the assistance they need when a problem arises. Personal legal problems can affect worker productivity, worker morale and corporate climate. By providing your employees with access to affordable legal assistance you head these problems off at the pass and empower your employees to take action before personal legal problems become distractions that interfere with their ability to perform at work.
For more information about the bottom line value of assessing your employees' full benefits needs through surveys, and providing them with easy access to comprehensive benefits packages, read this article published in Employee Benefit News on October 9, 2014.
What is the Cost of a Legal Plan?
Most employers are happy to discover that offering their employees access a group or prepaid legal services plan can be easy to administer and very cost effective. Most group and prepaid legal services plans can be purchased for $100.00 to $600.00 a year, providing a wide range of coverage depending on the policy selected. Pricing for group plans vary based on a number of factors including the number of covered individuals, the location of the group and the benefits desired.
If you would like to learn more about providing your employees access to a group legal services plan, we encourage you to request a quote from one or more of our providers to learn about what services are available.