Professions
The Benefits a Legal Advice Helpline for Professional Indemnity Claims
Here’s how having access to a Legal Helpline can help real estate agents in the event of a complaint
6 min read Last updated 10 Nov 2020

As a real estate agent, you might know every square metre of your suburbs, but if you are faced with an actual or potential claim, it can be a very unpleasant experience. Dealing with these experiences is important but the anxiety and uncertainty is normal, the question is – what to do? When it comes to legal matters, big or small, getting advice from an expert is crucial, but it often doesn’t come cheap. Property transactions can also move very quickly, and agents often require first class legal advice immediately, without the need to book an appointment or attend a solicitor’s office. So, how can real estate agents access timely, quality legal advice without breaking the bank?

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This is where a legal advice helpline can assist you.  Here are some of the ways having access to a legal advice helpline can assist you in responding to a claim or potential claim. 

1. Help you plan your next steps

An experienced legal expert who understands the real estate sector will ask the right questions and provide you with some clarity regarding the situation so that practical, considered decisions can be made to extricate you from the situation.
 
According to Michael Gapes, Partner at Carter Newell Lawyers, “Receiving a letter of demand is daunting, and when it does happen, agents can sometimes panic and lose perspective. There are also some agents who don’t take such communications seriously enough and bury their heads in the sand. Our experienced team of real estate experts helps by providing support and practical advice during this time.Our toll free phone line enables insured agents to call us, without an appointment, for on the spot advice about a situation that they are facing and to discuss a strategy to resolve the matter. There doesn’t have to be a formal claim to seek advice. A significant proportion of the thousands of calls we take each year are from agents seeking advice about potential claims and how to stop them escalating into formal claims.”
 
A legal advisor can also advise you on what your next steps should be. This may include formulating a strategy in an attempt to diffuse the situation or assisting in the drafting of a letter of response to a complaint. It may also involve advising the insurer of a possible claim which may trigger your professional indemnity policy.
Most potential claims can be resolved at no further cost to the agent or the insurer if early assistance is sought to stop a situation from escalating.

2. Can save you money on legal fees

When faced with legal action, it’s normal for the focus to be on the compensation amount. In reality though, the legal fees can also be a big part of the overall claim cost.
 
“Agents often underestimate just how expensive litigation can be,” Michael Gapes points out. “Even if a claim has no merit, once you’ve been named in a legal action, you have no option but to respond, otherwise default judgment can be obtained.  Even if a claim has no legal merit, it still costs to defend your position and, depending upon the other party’s financial position, there is often little ability to recover your costs if a claim is withdrawn or if you successfully defend the claim.” 

3. Receive advice from qualified experts 


Colleagues and fellow agents are often all too willing to offer advice and assistance when an agent is faced with a claim or potential claim. No one situation or claim is the same as another and it is often very dangerous to follow the advice of colleagues or non legal professionals as they are unlikely to be fully conversant with the relevant legislation and current case law.    

Getting advice from an expert solicitor helps reduce uncertainty. Your legal advisor will ask appropriate questions, establish the background circumstances to the matter and provide practical and accurate advice based upon your individual circumstances, the current status of the law and the extent of the coverage available under your policy.

4. Your claim will be managed on your behalf


Professional Indemnity Insurance for Real Estate Agents arranged by Aon includes access to a legal advice helpline to assist insured agents in dealing with Professional Indemnity claims and/or circumstances which may give rise to a claim. The legal advice helpline, provided by Carter Newell Lawyers as the appointed legal firm, is designed to reduce the hassle of lodging and managing a claim for you, providing a seamless, end-to-end service.

Aon & Carter Newell Lawyers

Carter Newell Lawyers is the national legal services provider for the Aon Real Estate Facility. Carter Newell Lawyers is an award-winning law firm, which has the largest real estate and property defence practice in Australia. They have over 30 years of litigation experience in the real estate industry and have dealt with thousands of claims against real estate agents and property industry participants.

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The Real Estate Agents Professional Indemnity insurance is arranged by Aon Risk Services Australia Limited (Aon) ABN 17 000 434 720 AFSL 241141 as agent for the insurer Insurance Australia Limited (ABN 11 000 016 722) trading as CGU Insurance (CGU). If you purchase this insurance, we will receive a commission that is a percentage of the premium. Further information can be provided upon request.