Q: Briefly tell us what legal insurance is and why it is important for Batswana?
A: Legal insurance is a particular class of insurance that facilitates access to law and justice by providing legal advice and covering the legal costs of a dispute regardless of whether the case is brought by or against the policyholder. This is the type of insurance that covers you when you are experiencing disputes, be it with your employees, landlord, spouse or service providers. At Legal Guard we cover family, civil, criminal, labor and land issues. Legal insurance is important because everyone is entitled to justice and it is vital for Batswana and everyone else in the country to have access to legal advice because legal risk can arise at any time.
Q: How is legal insurance different from other forms of insurance such as long and short-term?
A: The difference is that Legal Guard specializes in one class of insurance, being legal insurance, whereas a short-term insurer ordinarily has a variety of offerings. Having said that, it is important to note that we are not just an insurer; our specialty comes in the form of us having a hybrid of expertise from both the Insurance and legal fraternity. We have been in the market for over 17 years and I can confidently testify that the saying “practice makes perfect” rings true, especially in our case because we have continued to evolve and get better over the years.
Q: What benefits are available to me as a Legal Guard policyholder?
A: We offer two kinds of services, being Litigation (representation at court) and Non-Litigation (being legal advisory and counsel). Under Litigation, we offer legal representation for family matters, civil, criminal and labor disputes. Non-Litigation is broader in terms of its offerings as it covers General Legal Advice/Counsel, Will Drafting and Registration with the Master of the High Court, Restraint Orders, Child Maintenance follow up, Contract Drafting and Review, Contempt of Order, and Change of Marital Regime, among others.
Q: Compared to having a lawyer, what is the advantage of legal insurance?
A: As previously mentioned, we will all encounter legal matters at some point or another in our lives. What usually happens is that people tend to seek legal assistance through lawyers in moments where they are entangled in legal disputes, which is an expensive route compared to being attached to a legal insurance company. We have a panel of about 24 law firms across the country, which means that when the need arises, our customers are guaranteed assistance regardless of where they are in Botswana. Legal insurance companies have a standard fee, whereas lawyer fees vary and are often quite heavy.
Q: How is the current legal insurance literacy in Botswana?
A: Legal insurance is the less subscribed form of insurance in the country in comparison with other insurance offerings. This is a clear indication that the general public does not fully priorities legal insurance. From the NBFIRA report, the entire insurance industry has a 3.4 percent penetration rate, and of that, legal insurance has the least contribution. These insights have strongly guided a decision to embark on a customer education drive.
Q: How vital is legal insurance in this COVID-19 era?
A: During lockdown we began to see a rise in demand for legal advice on tenant-landlord relationships. We even managed to salvage a lot of those relationships and amended lease agreements to ensure we bring in the aspect of late or arranged payments. Another issue is that because the economy suffered as a result of the pandemic, we are now experiencing a surge in requests for legal advice on retrenchment processes and labor relations.
However, an opportunity arose for SMMEs through a Legal Guard offering called Kgwebo Guard. Our intention is to support the government’s efforts to revive the SMME market in order to improve the economy. We want SMMEs to concentrate on their core, which is running their businesses, and to leave us to take care of the legal part of things, as well as by educating SMMEs on any new regulations. Early this year we held a tax seminar to educate our SMME market on the impact of the new regulation and how they should prepare in order to be compliant.
COVID-19 has greatly accelerated our digitization strategy and we are about to launch new digital platforms where customers (both existing and potential), clientele, attorneys and intermediaries will be able to engage with Legal Guard from the comfort of their homes. Customers will be able to fully complete the Legal Guard application process online, including making payments. This is something that we are very excited to offer our customers as with everything that we do, we strive more especially for the convenience of the customer