AXA LEGAL EXPENSES DEAL PAVES THE WAY

AXA legal expenses deal paves the way for insurers to offer broarder legal services.

Arc Legal has been appointed to manage AXA Insurance personal legal expense provision and provide structure for full legal offering pre-implementation of the Legal Services Bill

Arc Legal Assistance (Arc), the bespoke legal costs insurance provider, has today announced it has been appointed as sole manager and administrator of AXA Insurance's (AXA) personal legal expenses account. Its unique model also enables AXA to become one of the first companies to be able to offer a wider range of legal services ahead of the implementation of the Government's Legal Services Bill 2006.

By working with its strategic legal partners Arc enables AXA to offer both insured legal costs cover and a range of uninsured legal services.

The personal legal expenses account, with over ? million policies, will be underwritten by Arc's strategic partner Inter Partner Assistance SA, the 'underwriting provision' arm of AXA Assistance. Arc will provide personal legal expense products and 24 hour legal helplines for customers of AXA. The product provides cover for legal fees incurred relating to a variety of issues including property, consumer and employment disputes. Access to legal services such as will writing and conveyancing will also be available to AXA's customers at discounted rates.

Helen Withers, Managing Director of Arc said: "We are delighted with this appointment, which will increase the total number of policies administered by Arc to over 5.5. million, demonstrating that in our fifth year of operation we are now firmly established us as one of the country's leading providers of legal costs insurance. Our business model is now well established, proved to be effective and accepted by the market."

Richard Finan, Director of Arc added: "This is a significant development for Arc and for the market as a whole. Our business model takes the provision of legal services beyond the basic insurance and helpline proposition offered by the traditional LEI market. Whilst other LEI providers may aspire in the longer term to provide broader legal services, their proposed in-house development models do not in our view, compete with our model, based on working in partnership with top quality independent law firms, with proven service delivery across the full spectrum of legal services.

"AXA has recognised the significant opportunity our model offers to deliver a full legal service and we are delighted to be able to work with them to achieve this.

"Whilst the rest of the market prepares for the implementation of the Legal Services Bill, Arc is offering businesses the opportunity to deliver these services now."

Sharon Scully, Finance Director of AXA Assistance UK said: "We have provided underwriting support to Arc since their formation and now use them exclusively to manage our legal expenses insurance accounts. Their unique and innovative business model, robust underwriting controls and strong focus on customer service delivery were key aspects of AXA's decision to move the legal expenses insurance contract to AXA Assistance and Arc."

AXA's existing client base will be migrated to AXA Assistance and Arc starting from 1st July. The transition will be completed within 12 months to ensure an uninterrupted continuation of service. The first accounts to transfer will include one of AXA's largest corporate clients. All new business secured by AXA will be supported by Arc with immediate effect.

Arc and AXA Assistance secured the account following a service benchmarking exercise carried out in 2006. AXA Assistance has also been awarded the contract to provide Insured Domestic Emergency assistance and helplines to AXA's personal lines customers.

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