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Insure Against Proving Cost Of Innocence - HIH

HIH Insurance Release

New Zealanders Can Now Insure Against Proving Cost of Innocence

New Zealanders can now insure against the cost of unexpected personal legal action against themselves and their families with a unique new policy from HIH Insurance.

Australasia’s largest general insurance company, HIH Insurance says that its HIH Self Defence™ policy extends a service it already offers to New Zealand business clients and which is widely available to individuals and their families in other countries.

“Every year, thousands of New Zealanders, or members of their family, are unexpectedly forced to pay for legal defence costs with little or no financial assistance,” said Mr Adrian Tulloch, General Manager, Liability Division for HIH Insurance. “Until it happens to them, few people realise it costs up to $10,000 or more a day to defend yourself in court, creating the potential for a legal defence to financially ruin many people.”

“The estimated average cost of mounting a legal defence in a civil dispute is up to $35,000 or more in overall legal costs and in a serious criminal case is up to $75,000 or more; these are compelling reasons to consider insuring against this risk.”

Mr Tulloch says that HIH Self Defence™ does not compete with the Government Legal Aid system but is aimed at people who are unlikely to qualify for Government Legal Aid funding or who wish to exercise personal choice.

HIH describes HIH Self Defence™ as the legal equivalent to health insurance. The policy covers the legal costs of defence against criminal, traffic and civil charges, from rape or death by dangerous driving to disputes with neighbours or tradespeople.

Protection against legal costs of up to $200,000 for any one claim costs just a few dollars a week for individuals. Family cover is also available.

“Any parent will appreciate the security of knowing that, should their son or daughter be in the wrong place at the wrong time, they would have the financial resources to prove their innocence,” commented Mr Tulloch.

HIH Self Defence™ coverage includes 24 hour access to instant legal advice and representation. Under an arrangement with New Zealand’s largest legal group, NZ Law, callers are quickly connected to the nearest appropriate law firm or on-call lawyer. The NZ Law network includes nearly 50 of New Zealand’s leading legal firms.

If appropriate, policy holders may also elect to use their own lawyer.

“When Auckland’s CBD power system failed in 1998, HIH settled Mercury Energy’s multi-million dollar claim in record time so Aucklanders could resume their normal lives, “ said Mr Tulloch. “We take the same approach with HIH Self Defence™ - we understand the need to act quickly when our clients are in trouble through no fault of their own.”

“Our relationship with NZ Law and other legal providers will ensure the best protection for HIH Self Defence™ clients at any time, any day and anywhere in New Zealand.”

According to the NZ Law chair, Mr Kerry Goldstone, every lawyer knows the frustration of having a client whose innocence might be proved but who couldn’t afford to defend the charge.

“While Government Legal Aid provides an admirable safety net for many people, the system is over-stretched and under pressure,” he said. “The advent of HIH Self Defence™ gives ordinary New Zealanders access to high quality legal representation so they can protect themselves against the unthinkable in an uncertain world.”

Established in New Zealand since 1986, HIH Insurance is Australasia’s largest commercial legal costs insurer, with total assets of $8 billion. In New Zealand the company, which acquired Colonial Mutual General in 1997, FAI in 1998 and established WorkAble Accident Insurance in 1999, specialises in Liability, Marine, Trade Credit, Workplace Accident, Property, Travel, Household and Motor Vehicle insurance. HIH also has a substantial presence in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Asia and South America.

For further information, contact Adrian Tulloch at HIH Insurance on (09) 379 7697 or 021 301 272, or see the HIH Insurance Web site at http://www.hih.co.nz
Photo available on request.

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