The birth of legal expenses insurance as we know it today can be traced back to the early twentieth century at the Le Mans car races in France.
In 1917 a mutual company was set up called Defense Automobile et Sportive (DAS) offering insurance for accidents, fire & theft, and ‘vigorous active protection to look after your interests if you are the victim of an incident on the highway for which you are not to blame, and which has only caused loss to your car and yourselves’.
The concept spread through out Europe and in 1926 a second LEI provider, also named D.A.S., but not related to the French organisation, was established in Geneva. One year later D.A.S. Belgium was formed and in 1928 the Swiss D.A.S. assisted in establishing a company in Berlin.
After the Second World War D.A.S. Germany changed its name to Deutscher Automobil Schutz (“German Automobile Protection”) and became fully independent from its founder as well as moving its head office to Munich. During the mid and late fifties people increasingly toured Europe and foreign travel brings the risk of a foreign accident, and when these happened the different language, legal system and a different approach of local authorities created a great demand for specialised advice and assistance.
D.A.S. reacted fast by establishing its own subsidiaries in Austria (1955), Spain (1958) and Italy (1955). A few years later, as the concept proved successful, the Netherlands, Greece and Luxembourg followed whilst D.A.S. Belgium was acquired. In 1958 DAS became the first insurance company in Germany to computerise its policy administration system.
In 1975, the German DAS company, in partnership with Phoenix Assurance (now a Royal and Sun Alliance company), established the UK DAS Legal Expenses Insurance Company and in 1989, DAS Munich purchased the Sun Alliance shareholding in DAS UK.
DAS UK is now 100% owned by DAS Munich in Germany.