Expert POV: Legal Plans Can Add Value and Drive Growth in 2018

What client doesn’t want to add a benefit that saves employees money on services they need? And, do this without increasing the company’s overall benefits budget? Adding a legal services plan may not be on the radar but it does check all the boxes.

Here, Ingrid Tolentino, CEO of Hyatt Legal Plans, offers her perspective on how innovative brokers can effectively overcome client misperceptions to make legal services plans a key part of your growth strategy.

What do you see as the most common misperceptions among employers – or their employees – about legal services plans?

The biggest challenge is communicating the need to employers. Legal issues are not top of mind for most, so they don’t see a legal plan as a benefit that employees need. However, we know that once people have experience with a legal issue and use their legal plan, they become loyal customers. In fact, MetLaw® is a satisfaction driver. Ninety percent of participants expressed satisfaction with their legal plan overall, and our reenrollment rates are high year after year, with an average of 86% of those who enroll in the plan staying in it.

The other misconception we commonly hear is that the attorneys must be inferior. Since members pay such a low monthly rate, I think there’s a perception they won’t get access to quality attorneys. The truth is that we have strict criteria for the attorneys in our network because we only want to work with ones who will provide excellent service to our members. We require a minimum of eight years in the practice of law for attorneys in our network, but on average, our network attorneys have practiced law for 25 years. We regularly monitor our attorneys and when we add new attorneys to our panel, we take care to educate and train them on our plan and customer service standards.

What is the top objection you hear from employers considering adding legal services?

We often hear objections from employers that they don’t have the resources to support the administration of the product. That’s why it’s important to lead with the fact that a legal plan is a “no noise” benefit. All employees at a company have the same rate so there is no detailed programming needed to add this to an open enrollment system. Deductions are static so there aren’t changes that need to be made throughout the year. The plan is also easy for employees to use since there are no waiting periods, claim forms or limits to how many times you can access covered services. Beyond educating employees about the value of the plan, there’s really not a lot of work a company has to do once it’s implemented.

What’s the most effective approach you’ve seen brokers take when recommending legal services to their clients?

It all starts with emphasizing the value and convenience. Most people – often including the benefits decision makers — are intimidated about seeking legal help. They don’t know how to find an attorney or how they will be able to afford one. Because of this, many times people don’t deal with legal issues or they take on too much trying to handle them on their own. When a broker is able to effectively explain how the plan works and the common legal issues it covers, it becomes an appealing solution that all employees will be able to use. Keep in mind, 70 percent of us have at least one ongoing legal issue annually. Plus, we’re seeing some intriguing trends when it comes to employee interest. Fifty percent of Millennials – adults ages 21-34 – say they’re interested in purchasing a legal services plan through their employers.

Next, it’s about conveying the value. With MetLaw, employees gain access to our national network of more than 14,000 attorneys at a monthly cost that’s often comparable to a movie outing for two or a tankful of gas. Add in how easy it is to use – no copays, no claim forms, no usage limits – and it becomes an easy decision for both the employer and their employees.

Ingrid Tolentino is CEO of Hyatt Legal Plans, a MetLife company. Ingrid previously worked as Vice President, Business Services & Initiatives of Property & Casualty at MetLife. During Ingrid’s 20-year career at MetLife, she also served as Planning Officer for the company and Chief of Staff to the President of Group Property & Casualty.

Group legal plans are provided by Hyatt Legal Plans, Inc., a MetLife company, Cleveland, OH. In certain states, group legal plans are provided through insurance coverage underwritten by Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Warwick, RI.