Thursday, 7 March 2013

Legal Insurance for Namibians

First printed in Consumer News Namibia magazine - Feb 2013 edition

The cost of taking legal action can be prohibitive. Could you afford to claim compensation if you were injured in an accident, unfairly dismissed from work or had a dispute with a business?

A friend of mine has had legal insurance for the past three years and believed he was covered. About a month ago, he was accused of being involved in a theft syndicate at his work. He immediately called his legal insurance company, but was informed they do not cover criminal cases. He was taken for a polygraph test (is that even legal in Namibia?), and informed that he had failed the test. This led to him leaving the job that morning to go speak to his legal insurer.

An guess what the legal insurance company tells him? They inform him they do not cover the expenses for a labour case either.

WHAT is it with insurance companies that do not want to pay claims? If you complain at NAMFISA they can do very little to help.

If I am going to buy legal insurance I expect:
Bail Assistance
•         Bail negotiations and applications on members’ behalf
•         Depositing of the bail amount/issuing of bail guarantee on behalf of arrested member
In other words, I must know that if I a accused of a crime that I have instant legal assistance when I am arrested and the legal representative shall do everything in their power to have me released on bail. In addition, my legal insurance will cover a ceratin amount – for example bail up to N$10,000.

Civil Law
•         Bank and insurance matters
•         Blacklisting
•         Building and construction matters
•         Contractual disputes
•         Debt collection
•         Letters of demand
•         Litigation
•         Personal injury claims, etc
I I should find myself in a case where I am accused of wrong doing by an individual (civil meaning between two parties), I hope my insurance company will cover all the types of cases, as well as assist when I wish to take another person or company to court in a civil case.

Criminal Law
•         Fraud, theft, robbery or assault
•         Arrests
•         Bail applications
•         Consumer issues
•         Driving under the influence
•         Reckless driving
•         Search warrants, etc.
This area is where most legal insurance companies are doing proper cover. This is of course the area that scares most citizens. But, in all probability, this is the area which legal insurance companies know are used the least – but do wonders for advertising.

Family Law
•         Ante-nuptial contracts
•         Custody disputes
•         Divorces
•         Family violence matters
•         Interdicts
•         Maintenance disputes, etc.
Being able to handle family affairs privately and confidentially is very important for every consumer. This area of law also calls for the ability to settle disputes within the family about legal matters.

Labour Law
•         Dismissals
•         Disciplinary proceedings
•         Pension payout disputes
•         Restraint of trade agreements
•         Retrenchments
•         Unpaid wages
•         Working condition
In the employment arena we are often caught out either not knowing our rights, or thinking that we actually do when we don’t. Our legal insurance should allow us to get quick assistance, especially in cases where we need advice before following any course of action that could be detrimental in the long run.

Surely this is not too much to ask from your legal insurance company?

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