Effective 1 January 2022.
We're excited to introduce changes to the LegalWise Membership Agreement. The changes to the Agreement have been made based on feedback we have received from our Members, our Network of lawyers, our colleagues and to ensure that the Agreement meets our obligations in terms of industry legislation, most notably the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), Short Term Insurance Policyholder Protection Rules (PPR) and the Legal Practice Act (LPA).
We've used the opportunity to explain our Paralegal services benefit more clearly, to make a few changes to our benefits, limits, restrictions and exclusions, as well as to better explain terms and remove uncertainty.
We've detailed below the most important changes. A copy of the new LegalWise Agreement is available on www.legalwise.co.za or at your nearest LegalWise Branch.
SECTION 1: Interpretation and Definitions -
The definition of a Spouse has been amended to clarify who exactly qualifies for cover. It now reads -
“Spouse” (including a “Life Partner”) means a person who, at the time the Relevant Events occurred, was married or has lived with the Main Member as if they were married by civil rights or customary law, for at least the Minimum Period as Life Partner shown in Your Schedule of Insurance, and is still married or living with the Life Partner when a Benefit is claimed.
We've also amended the sections referring to children to include legally adopted children of the Main Member or the nominated Spouse
The Main Member and the nominated Spouse's biological or legally adopted children aged 18 up to turning 21 and in school or studying full time at a recognised institution in the Republic of South Africa (RSA) and who are financially dependent on the Main Member or nominated Spouse. (Children aged 21 and older do not qualify for Cover).
SECTION 2: The Benefits (Paralegal and Insurance Cover) -
We've defined and explained the Paralegal services benefit in more detail than in the previous versions of the Membership Agreement.
We've also indicated in Section 6 of the Agreement what matters are excluded from the Paralegal services benefit, so you know exactly what type of matters our Legal Counsellors are able to assist you with.
Finally, it is important to note that for some of the Paralegal services, such as debt, family and other civil matters that comprise our extended Paralegal services, we only offer advice, as we are not able to draft documents or complete forms on your behalf.
SECTION 4: The Benefits (Paralegal and Insurance Cover) -
The good news is we've added additional matters that now enjoy Insurance cover.
- Under Personal Injury and/ or threat to a person, property damage, consumer matters and debt matters we've included a breach of an agreement by another party to repay a debt due to you; and to remove an incorrectly taken judgement against you.
- Under Education matters we've added a breach of a contract with you relating to the lodging of your child who is attending school or an institute of higher education.
- And finally we've added an act by the State to declare you unfit to possess a firearm and related issues.
SECTION 5: The Agreement, Fairness and Cooling-off Period -
Under Subsection 3(a) we've clarified that if we cancel your Membership during the Waiting Period, due to non-payment of Premiums, we don't refund any premiums.
SECTION 6: Exclusions -
As indicated under Section 2 we have included what matters are excluded from the Paralegal services benefit, so you know exactly what type of matters our Legal Counsellors are able to assist you with.
We have also added four new exclusions from insurance cover –
- Subsection 16, Any Case or matter directly caused by pandemics and other natural or environmental disasters, e.g. flooding and climate change. It's worth noting that this exclusion also applies to Paralegal Services.
- Subsection 27, Any activity or attempt to perform or bring about nuclear weapons or material, ionizing, radiation, or contamination from any nuclear waste or from the combustion of nuclear fuel.
- Subsection 29, Any occurrence for which a fund has been established in terms of the War Damage Insurance and Compensation Act, 1976.
- Subsection 32, Load-shedding and water-shedding, or any other act or omission by the Government, or any of its constituent part or any other body/provider, amounting to negligence or non-performance of its public obligations.
And have added wording to
- Subsection 19, 'refugee, asylum and citizenship matters'.
- Subsection 22, 'or a matter that is tainted with illegality.’
- Subsection 26, 'terrorist activities and acts of sabotage.'
SECTION 7: Legal Expenses We Pay -
We added that the Relevant Events must have happened in South Africa to enjoy Insurance cover. This has always been the case, we have just clarified the wording of the Agreement.
SECTION 8: Legal Expenses We Don't Pay -
We've added Section 8(10) –
We do not pay legal costs that are punitive costs awards (e.g., costs awards against you by the court that serves as a punishment).
SECTION 9: What Expenses We can Claim Back or Restrict -
If any costs are awarded as part of a court order or settlement in your favour, then you as our Member give us the right to recover the costs awarded. These costs will be written back to your claim, which will result in more cover for future claims, as there is a lifetime limit on claims.
Section 9(4) We may in our discretion, require you at any time before or after payment of a claim to cede to us any contingent, future of actual right to claim any costs in respect of any proceedings covered by this agreement.
Should you have other legal insurance cover, with one of our competitors, who gave cover for a claim, we will only pay a portion of the total legal expenses.
Section 9(6) If you are covered against payment of legal fees under any other insurance policy our liability shall be limited to the prorated (rateable) portion of the total legal expenses incurred.
SECTION 12: Payment of Premiums, Exchange of Information, Communication and Leniency -
Subsection 1(c) has been added to the Agreement to assist you to keep your premiums up to date.
If a debit order deduction is not successful for whatever reason on the premium due date, resulting in your Membership going into arrears, We may do a double premium deduction from your nominated bank account on the next premium due date.
Other changes have been made to the Agreement in Subsection 12 (2) (a) to (e) to ensure that we meet our obligations under the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013.
SECTION 13: Premium Increase, Change of Terms and Cancellation -
Under Section 13(1) we've amended the way in which the monthly premium will increase.
The monthly premium will now increase on the anniversary date of when you first joined.
SECTION 15: Legal Expenses Accidental Death (LEAD) -
We've clarified that this benefit only applies to the Main Member, and not the Spouse, children or other insureds under the Agreement.
This Benefit is an integral part of the Agreement and only applies to the accidental death of the Main Member. It cannot be bought as a stand-alone policy.
Extended Family Protection Membership
In Section 1 of the Agreement we've added a definition of individuals who qualify for the Extended Family Protection Membership. The definition reads -
An Extender Member is any Family Member added in terms of the Extended Family Protection Addendum, but excluding those who do not qualify in terms of the definition of a Spouse.
We've extended the Benefit and in the Extended Family Protection Membership addendum we've set-out who now qualifies.
- Children of the Main Member and his/her Spouse, between the ages of 18 to 20, who are not studying full time and who are not financially
dependent on the Main Member or Spouse;
- Children aged 21 through 25, of the Main Member and his/ her Spouse;
- Biological parents or adoptive parents and biological brothers or sisters of the Main Member;
- Biological parents or adoptive parents and biological brothers or sisters of the Main Member's Spouse.
Uncontested Divorce and Child Maintenance -
We've clarified that the Uncontested Divorce and Child Maintenance benefit is only available to the main Member and we've added an exclusion to the Child Maintenance benefit -
Exclusion: Your defence for a criminal charge arising from failure to pay maintenance is excluded from this benefit.
Conveyancing Fees –
We've clarified that this benefit is for a discount on the transfer fees payable and that all other costs like transfer duty, clearance certificates and Deeds Office fees are not subject to the discount.
Teachers, Health Care Professionals and Enforcement Officers' Addendum
Effective from 31 December 2021 we will no longer offer the Trauma Counselling and Anti-Retroviral benefit, however we've extended the defamation benefit to include matters in your personal, private and individual capacity in addition to those occurring during the course and scope of your employment.
Subsection 2(a) Your defamation, insult, verbal abuse or any other infringement of Your personality, reputation or dignity during the course and scope of Your employment as a Health care Professional, Teacher or Enforcement Officer or in your personal, private and individual capacity.
Please take note: The new LegalWise Membership Agreement will apply from 1 January 2022. It will not affect our existing obligations to you made under the previous version for matters that arose before the change.