Legal expenses insurance

Read our guide to help you decide if legal expenses insurance is something you can benefit from.

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If a driver decides to take legal action against you following a collision, or you decide to take action against the other driver, then you’re likely to need legal assistance. The same goes if you’ve committed a motoring offence. But who will foot this legal bill? Unfortunately, it’s you, and the costs associated with legal assistance can build up pretty quickly. To avoid being left out of pocket in such an event, you may consider legal expenses cover, which could provide you with financial protection against these legal costs. Although forget about any guarantees. Read our guide to discover what is typically covered by legal assistance and the pros and cons of getting it added to your car insurance policy.

What is legal expenses insurance?

Legal expenses insurance covers all costs associated with legal assistance up to a set amount, which is typically at least £50,000 up to £100,000 or more in some cases. Generally, legal assistance includes the legal costs of defending a claim against you as well as the costs of taking legal action against another driver. It could also help if you need to recover money lost as a result of an accident such as loss of earnings or travel expenses.

It can sometimes be included in a standard car insurance policy while other insurers will offer legal expenses cover as an optional extra that can be purchased on top of a policy.

What’s covered by legal assistance?

Each insurer will have its own guidelines as to what is covered and what isn’t covered. Typical cover can include:

  • If you’ve been accused of a driving offence.
  • If you’re in a disagreement with someone over the purchase, sale or repair of a car.
  • If you need to take legal action against someone and intend to claim for travel expenses or loss of earnings.
  • If legal action is being taken against you and someone else wishes to recover lost money.

What’s not covered by legal insurance?

As mentioned above, an insurer will set its own terms of what is and isn’t covered in its legal expenses insurance but here are some typical exclusions:

  • Legal costs against you if you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Legal costs against you if you’re violent or dishonest.
  • Criminal or motoring offence fines from a court.
  • Any legal expenses incurred before a legal team accepts the case on your behalf.
  • Compensation for another person or driver taking action against you.

What’s the cost of legal expenses insurance?

The cost of legal expenses insurance will depend on the insurer as some may include this protection as standard while others may charge you extra for it. As an optional extra, you can expect to pay under £30, which would cover you for 12 months.

When obtaining quotes, be sure to check through the policy details carefully to ensure you are not being charged extra for anything you don’t actually want.

Nobody really knows what’s around the corner and that’s why insurance can be so financially beneficial. It can also offer peace of mind during an otherwise extremely stressful time, especially if a dispute arises. Do your research to check that you don’t already have legal expenses insurance through your job or another source.

Are there any other options instead of legal expenses insurance?

There are alternative ways you could still benefit from legal expenses cover without getting it from your car insurer. These include:

  • Home insurance may include a certain amount of legal assistance.
  • Certain bank accounts may include legal assistance as part of a package of benefit features.
  • Credit cards may include legal assistance as part of their benefits.
  • Trade unions may offer members access to legal help covered by subscriptions.
  • After-the-event insurance, which can be taken out when you need it. Although this will set you back more than if you added legal expenses insurance as an optional extra, you may still save as a result.

Pros

  • Legal expenses cover can provide both financial protection and peace of mind in case something goes wrong.
  • Having legal expenses cover can often give you free access to legal help and advice.
  • Legal expenses cover could be useful if you want to get the excess back, which you had to pay due to an incident in which you were not at fault.

Cons

  • Even if you have legal expenses cover, you may not be allowed to take legal action against another driver if it is unclear who is responsible.
  • Having legal expenses insurance does not guarantee that legal action will be taken.
  • Even if you believe legal action should be taken against another driver, this could be rejected due to the particular incident being historic or if the legal costs outweigh the money lost.

Frequently asked questions

Finder survey: Which of these is covered by your car insurance?

Response
Comprehensive coverage66.41%
Personal injury protection32.18%
Uninsured driver protection24.71%
Third party fire and theft20.98%
Misfuelling cover15.19%
Third party only11.45%
I don't have a premium car insurance10.42%
None of the above3.6%
Source: Finder survey by Censuswide of Brits, December 2023
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*Based on data provided by Consumer Intelligence Ltd, www.consumerintelligence.com (Mar ’24). 51% of car insurance customers could save £524.68

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