The AA and Saga have today launched legal services websites targeted at Middle England as pressure on high street solicitors cranks up.
Both companies – which are owned by the same private equity businesses – have tied up with volume law firm Cogent Law to offer services sitting behind an online document-assembly platform provided by legal IT company Epoq Legal.
The documents – and a free half-hour of legal review – are free to those with AA or Saga legal expenses cover attached to their home or car insurance, but the service is also accessible to those without insurance or even membership of either organisation. The AA has 15 million members, of whom around two million have insurance with it. Saga has 2.7 million customers.
A range of consumer legal services is available through Cogent in addition to document review, although at a separate cost. The arrangement is unusual compared to other institutions which offer similar services attached to insurance in that the law firm is sitting directly behind the service, rather than an intermediary.
It is well known that the AA has been eyeing the opportunities in the legal world that the Legal Services Act may open up, and a spokesman told Legal Futures this was a “more structured way of exploring the legal services market than before”, where it operated a panel arrangement. The range of services offered by Cogent was “aimed at Middle England”, he said. He would not be drawn on where the service could go, saying: “We’ll see how this goes.”
Nick Addyman, senior partner of Cogent Law: “We are delighted to have been recognised as having the experience, expertise, capacity and national coverage to be able to deliver the legal support for these new ventures. We have strong working relationship with both the AA and Saga and look forward to a very exciting new era. Both insurance companies have recognised the opportunity for trusted brands to offer a much broader range of insurance-related services. Consumers, especially online, are besieged by businesses offering off-the-shelf legally-related services, without knowing whether the advice being given is sound and reliable.”
Richard Cohen, the executive chairman of Epoq, said: “The growing number of major brands we work with like the AA and Saga recognise that their customers are now very comfortable using online services. Law is a natural extension for them, and offers great potential because of the introduction of the Legal Services Act opening up the legal landscape. But it’s not just the big brands that can tap into changing client needs, we are also supporting law firms that wish to remain competitive and connect with their own clients online.”
The AA marked the launch of its service with a survey of 18,251 of its members showing that 48% of them do not have a will, with worries about the cost (16%) and about using a lawyer (12%) the third and fifth most common reasons why. “Haven’t got round to it” (56%) and “Don’t have much to leave so don’t need one” (19%) were the top two reasons.
Saga launched its legal services offering with a survey that showed 25% of the over-50s said a lack of sex was the trigger for their divorce, while maintaining the home and responsibility for debts were main reasons for conflict. “There are many legal issues that can affect the over 50s, which is why Saga has launched the Saga Legal Service,” the company said.