BHL, owner of Minster Law, has launched a major push into the legal expenses insurance (LEI) market through its subsidiary Coral Insurance, which will be serviced by the law firm.
Will Price, chief commercial officer of both Coral and Minster, said Coral’s aim was to capture a 15% share of the LEI market within three years and in time make it a standalone product, rather than an add-on – – something that has been attempted before in the insurance market but never successfully.
Mr Price said lawyers handling LEI claims often did a merits assessment before proceeding to litigation, “which is expensive and makes the product expensive”.
Instead, Coral and Minster, which would be handling almost all of the claims, were committed to an approach based on “litigation as a last resort”, with greater use of alternative dispute resolution.
“We will be working hard to reduce the cost of claims so the product is more affordable.”
He said Minster would employ a “multi-stage case progression model”, with the emphasis on securing a good outcome as quickly as possible.
“We want to speak to people as early as possible, rather than representing them at the back end of a difficult process.”
Coral will act as a wholesale provider of LEI to insurers, brokers and others, backed by insurers Allianz and Financial & Legal.
The LEI will be offered as an ancillary product to car and home insurance policies but Mr Price said Coral’s ambitions went beyond this to a standalone LEI policy.
“One step towards that would be to make LEI much more valuable and a reason for purchasing a core product.”
He said Minster would carry out all the legal work for LEI clients, apart from areas it did not cover, such as probate and tax disputes.
Mr Price said “the nature of the working relationship” between Coral and Minster would differentiate the LEI from their rivals.
“The alignment of cultures, thinking, transparency and shared data builds a really effective model.”
Mr Price said the model was “more about prevention than cure” and how to stop an issue escalating.
“We think the UK LEI market is at a crossroads in terms of its evolution. For too many years it has played an almost peripheral role – largely as a result of vested interests, an almost total absence of fresh-thinking and a lack of desire to challenge the status-quo.
“Society has changed and LEI fundamentally needs to evolve to keep pace with that change.
“To realise the true potential of LEI in the UK, we need to start thinking about it in the same way as some of our European counterparts, where citizens are more informed and knowledgeable about the benefits of LEI and it is a socially beneficial product that truly helps them in the event of an injustice, whether on the road or at home, or in the workplace.”
Mr Price added that the biggest barrier to a standalone LEI product was “customer awareness and the education they need to make them aware of LEI and help them understand it.”