ADA, Okla., Feb. 20, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- LegalShield, one of North America's leading providers of affordable legal plans and the IDShield identity theft solution for individuals, families and small businesses, announced that James Rosseau, its chief commercial officer, sat with two economists on the Conference Board's Economics Watch Webcast on February 14.
During the panel, Rosseau provided key insights from the LegalShield Law Index, a collection of five indices tracking multiple key economic indicators. Published monthly, the index provides a forward-looking snapshot of the economic and financial status of U.S. households and small businesses. The January data suggest that a rebound in housing is unlikely in the first quarter of 2018, but underlying economic fundamentals remain solid.
"In 2017, we held a position that consumers generally were overconfident about the economy, and that continues in 2018," said Rosseau. "But we are already seeing signs of volatility in the first half of this year that may continue for some time. Fluctuations in the stock market are unavoidable, but there is also a great deal of uncertainty around new legislation that has yet to be implemented. In addition, debt, such as subprime auto loans, continues to rise, along with other categories, raising questions about longer-term consumer financial stress. Separately, we don't anticipate a big rebound in housing construction activity in the next few months."
The LegalShield Law Index comprises five indices, including the Consumer Financial Stress Index, Housing Activity Index, Bankruptcy Index, Foreclosure Index, and the Real Estate Index. To depict the health of the U.S. economy, each index relies on LegalShield's unique and proprietary database of member demand for and usage of legal services.
"What is unique about the LegalShield index is its being based entirely on 'hard data' – the legal matters our members open with our network of provider law firms – as opposed to surveys of perceptions about the economy, as is the case with other indices," continued Rosseau. "It's too soon for our data to provide any conclusive insights on the economic effects of tax reform. Consumers are correct to feel confident about the economy, as our Consumer Financial Stress Index is near an all-time low. Still, in January, the LegalShield Estate Planning Index shot up to its highest level in nearly four years. This development reflects the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which in part acted to raise the threshold for the estate tax. We will be watching our data closely as the year continues."
LegalShield's hard data reflect real-world developments in a number of ways. "Last year, in January, the president signed the so-called 'Travel Ban,' which aimed to restrict immigration from various Muslim-majority countries around the world," Rosseau pointed out. "Indeed, LegalShield data show that February 2017 had the single largest intake ratio for legal matters pertaining to immigration in the 15-year history contained in our data. The monthly intake ratio jumped 69 percent over the long-run average as citizens responded to the new immigration restrictions."
A pioneer in the democratization of affordable access to legal protection, LegalShield is one of North America's leading providers of legal safeguards and protection against identity theft for individuals, families and small businesses. The 45-year-old company has more than 1,751,000 members that are covered by its legal and identity theft plans. IDShield provides identity theft protection to one million individuals. LegalShield and IDShield serve more than 141,000 businesses. Both legal and identity theft plans start for less than $25 per month.
LegalShield's legal plans provide access to attorneys with an average of 22 years of experience in areas such as family matters, estate planning, financial and business issues, consumer protection, tax, real estate, benefits disputes and auto/driving issues. Unlike other legal plans or do-it-yourself websites, LegalShield has dedicated law firms in 50 states and four provinces in Canada that members can call for help without having to worry about high hourly rates.
IDShield provides identity monitoring and restoration services and is the only identity theft protection company armed with a team of licensed private investigators on call to restore a member's identity.
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