Canadian Underwriter

Legal Protection

September 21, 2010   by By Alex Vizer

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Company: DAS Legal Protection Insurance Company Ltd.

Year Founded: DAS Canada was founded in April 2010, while parent company DAS Group has been around since 1928.

Public or Private: Public.

Premiums/Year: DAS Canada received Letters Patent from the Ministry of Finance in April 2010. DAS Group wrote more than $1.5 billion (CAN) in premiums in 2009.

# of Employees: 17

Beginnings: The DAS Group originated in 1928 as the first German legal expense insurance company, and now operates in 18 countries throughout Europe, Asia and North America. It is part of the German-based ERGO Group. It opened its Canadian office in 2009 and received Letters Patent from the Ministry of Finance in April 2010.

Reasons to Watch: DAS is the first mono-line legal expense insurer in Canada. Legal expense insurance (LEI) is popular in Europe and the U.S., and numerous studies have cited it as an approach that can be used to promote greater access to justice. However, the concept has yet to become popular in Canada. Quebec is by far Canada’s largest market, where 10% of the population has some form of LEI that is often purchased as an add-on to existing home and auto insurance policies. DAS Canada will be trying to sell a product that is unfamiliar to most Canadians, but president and CEO Barbara Haynes is confident that it is up to the task. “Our parent company is very patient and willing to invest in a new market,” says Haynes. “DAS has never failed in a start-up operation and has never pulled out of a market.”

Brokers will be able to register to do business with DAS over the company’s website and start selling policies to clients the next day. Additionally, there are no restrictions on the type of brokers that will be able to do business with DAS.

Recent Triumphs: Clearing the first regulatory hurdle and receiving its Letters Patent from the Ministry of Finance is DAS Canada’s biggest achievement.

Challenges: “Raising awareness of legal expense insurance is a challenge for us,” says Haynes, “both with brokers and with the general public.” To better educate brokers about its products, DAS Canada has invested in e-learning capabilities that will allow brokers to take a variety of online modules that will teach them more about LEI. The modules will be free of charge and count towards continuing education hours. In addition, DAS has sent sales staff out into the field to interact with brokers on a personal basis.

As for the public, DAS Canada hopes that media coverage will help educate consumers about the product. In 2009, news that the company would start operating in Canada attracted more media attention than is usually given to new insurers, with mainstream publications such as The Toronto Star and Maclean’s running articles about DAS Group and LEI.

It will be crucial to differentiate between LEI and the more popular, though also not very well known, legal service plans. It is estimated that 5.5 million Canadians subscribe to some kind of legal services plan, which are limited in scope and are usually designed to give subscribers a few hours of a lawyer’s time and help with preparing legal documents like wills. Many Canadians may be part of these plans without their knowledge, as they are most commonly found as add-ons to employee benefit plans and credit cards. LEI is a completely different product that offers more coverage and higher limits, and those distinctions will be important to maintain.

New Initiatives: Now that it has received its Letters Patent, provincial regulation is the next step. DAS is now operating in Ontario and hopes to start selling policies in British Columbia and Alberta by late summer. Eventually it will operate in all of Canada. Three products are now offered: DASliving, DASdrive and DASbusiness.

Quote from Representative: “We are pricing the products at the level that people see this as a no-brainer. Compared to an hour or two of a lawyer’s time, this is a really valuable and inexpensive product.”

DAS Legal Protection Insurance Company Ltd.
Charitable Cause: Haynes is on the board of WICC (Women in Insurance Cancer Crusade), and she and several of her co-workers volunteer for the organization.
Headquarters: 390 Bay Street, Suite 1610, Toronto, ON M5H 2Y2
Telephone Number: 1-888-5-TALKTODAS (1-888-582-5586)

© Copyright 2010 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the July/August 2010 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.