Insurance company DAS Canada sells low-cost policies that cover your legal costs in a car accident, repair dispute or even fighting a ticket.
As a self-employed video producer, Janine Harris spends time driving around Toronto. She recently bought an insurance policy to protect herself from legal costs related to her vehicle.
“It seemed like a no-brainer,” she says about the DASdrive policy, which costs $80 a year. “I figured it wouldn’t hurt to throw it on.”
She was glad she did, since DAS approved her claim after she got a ticket for a driving offence. She worked with a lawyer, who handled her defence when the case was heard in court a year later.
The timing of the trial couldn’t have been worse for her.
“My son was in the hospital having appendix surgery,” she says. “I called the lawyer, assuming I had to be there, and he said he’d take care of it.
“Later, I found the ticket wasn’t going ahead. That $80 I spent saved me so much money. I would have been a no-show if I’d handled the ticket myself.”
Marianna Michael runs a small family-owned insurance brokerage that sells DAS personal and commercial policies. She was happy to purchase a policy for her own car.
“I’d been driving 15 years with no tickets, but I got my first speeding ticket shortly afterward. The service was fantastic,” she says.
“I called the claims line to see if I was covered. Then, I talked to a lawyer who helped me fight the ticket. I didn’t have to go to trial. There was no stress whatsoever.”
While tickets for driving offences can be $150 to $200 or more, there’s a bigger worry. Each ticket can raise the cost of your car insurance.
“You can lose your claims-free insurance discount with the first ticket. And with the second, you start paying surcharges based on a percentage of your annual premiums,” says Michael.
“This policy will pay for itself within two lawyer visits. And you get to work with a lawyer, not a paralegal.”
DAS Canada started selling legal expense insurance in July 2010. It’s part of the DAS Group, a German-owned company, which operates in 18 countries around the world.
The DASdrive policy helps deal with disputes about a driver’s license or vehicle repairs. You can hire a lawyer to negotiate with an insurer if your car is written off in a collision and fight for accident benefits if you’re injured.
There’s a $100,000 per limit on the policy, which is enough to cover the legal expenses associated with most vehicle claims.
Another policy, DASbusiness, has a $200,000 limit. It covers disputes about employment, property, bodily injury, licenses and taxes. For an extra cost, debt recovery disputes are included.
“Canada currently ranks ninth out of 13 Western countries in access to justice,” says Jas Basra, vice-president and chief legal officer of DAS Canada.
“By covering legal expenses in the event of unexpected legal challenges, our policies help make the legal system more affordable and accessible. It is like having a lawyer on retainer, but for a tiny fraction of the cost.”
Insurance broker Christopher Case, a former music producer, specializes in entertainment and new media clients. He recommended the DASdrive policy to Harris.
“DAS legal expense insurance has been a great product for my personal and business clients,” he says, adding that it can be customized to fit the needs of a company or group.
“For example, DASbusiness for Musicians provides access to legal support and advice, in addition to coverage for contract disputes and tax issues.
“When a musician on tour can’t afford to fight a speeding ticket in another city or province, DAS can.”
All policies offer unlimited telephone legal advice on any legal matter, using specialized lawyers, whether it’s covered by your policy or not, Basra says.
DAS Canada: Head office is in downtown Toronto. Toll-free phone number is 1-888-582-5586.
Personal and professional products are available at insurance brokers.
DAS covers policyholders for legal fees, disbursements and out-of-pocket costs, including court fees, expert witness fees and medical reports.
It also covers adverse costs when awarded against the insured or settled between the parties, as well as lost income for attending court proceedings.
DAS is a subsidiary of ERGO, the primary insurer of the Munich Re Group. The name stands for “Defense Automobile et Sportive,” the first company to offer this coverage at a race track in Le Mans, France, in 1917.