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Do I Need Motor Legal Protection?

Last updated: 02/11/2023 | Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

Motor legal protection isn’t essential for all drivers, but if you’re worried about the legal expenses that may arise from being in an accident, it could provide you with some extra peace of mind. To decide whether motor legal protection cover is right for you, you’ll need to understand exactly what it offers, how much it costs and how it fits in with your car insurance policy.

In This Guide:

Motor legal protection, or legal expenses cover, is a car insurance add-on that can help drivers to cover legal costs if they’re ever in a car accident. It’s especially useful for anyone looking to recoup costs in a situation where their car insurance won’t pay out, as it may provide you with the means to take another driver to court and receive compensation that way. Some common claims your policy may cover include:

  • Loss of earnings if the accident means you can no longer work
  • Medical expenses incurred by injuries you or your passengers sustained in the accident
  • Compensation for physical damage to your car or personal belongings
  • Additional expenses such as vehicle hire while yours is out of order

However, motor legal expenses cover isn’t just for accidents; it can also provide you with protection if you are charged with a motoring offence, or support you in any legal difficulties you face when you’re selling or buying a car.

It's important to note that motor legal protection will not provide you with any compensation after an accident and only covers legal costs. If you also want compensation, you’ll need to make sure your car insurance policy offers this and check if your circumstances meet the requirements laid out in your terms and conditions.

Some comprehensive car insurance policies include motor legal protection as part of the cover they offer, meaning that you wouldn’t need to pay an extra fee. Choosing motor legal protection as an add-on usually costs somewhere between £15-£30 per year, but this number will depend on how extensive the cover is and the amount you’re allowed to claim up to.

Since motor legal protection doesn’t increase your yearly car insurance payments by a large amount, it can be well worth taking out. Legal fees can quickly amount to unaffordable sums, particularly if your case takes a long time to resolve, so taking out cover can significantly improve your chances of seeking reparations after an accident. Some policies may even include free consultations and legal advice for smaller issues, which can sometimes help you navigate difficult situations before they turn into bigger problems.

There are some potential downsides to motor legal protection though. While the annual costs are fairly low, your policy may not provide you with the comprehensive cover you’re expecting, which is why it’s so important to read your terms and conditions carefully.

For example, some motor legal expenses insurance policies will require you to use one of their lawyers to represent you, so if you were hoping to choose someone yourself, your options may be limited. Your claim may also be refused, especially if you have little evidence to support your argument, as typically only cases with a reasonable chance of success are taken on. You may also not be able to claim if the incident in question happened a long time ago or if the amount you’re looking to recoup is very small.

To sum up, before taking out a motor legal protection policy, weigh up the following pros and cons:

Pros Cons
  • May cover legal fees of up to £100,000 depending on the amount of cover you buy.
  • Could offer you free access to legal advice and 24/7 helplines.
  • Low annual cost whether taken out as an add-on or as part of your main car insurance policy.
  • Claim may be refused if you have a weak case or are contesting a low amount of money.
  • Limited choice in representation if the policy provider requires you to use their lawyers.
  • No cover if the accident is your fault.

The easiest way to take out motor legal protection cover is by finding a comprehensive car insurance policy that already includes it. However, if you already have a policy that works for you, or can’t find a policy that meets all your needs and comes with motor legal protection, you can buy it as an add-on. It’s typically easier to buy extra cover when you’re also buying a new car insurance policy, but it’s often possible to add on motor legal protection part-way through a contract as well. Always speak to your chosen provider if you’re ever unsure about your options.

Am I Covered if the Accident is My Fault?

No, if an accident is your fault, you won’t be able to use motor legal protection to cover your legal fees. This is because your case won’t have a reasonable chance of success, so if you’re taken to court by another driver, you’ll need to organise and cover the cost of your own legal advice and representation.

Legal liability insurance, also referred to as third-party liability cover, is a legal requirement for all drivers to have. This type of car insurance will cover any expenses you need to pay to other drivers as a result of an accident. This could include damage to their vehicle or personal injury compensation costs. However, this type of insurance will not cover any of your own costs or legal fees, so you will need to pay for repairs to your own vehicle yourself.

It is possible to take out motor legal protection after an accident has already occurred, but it won’t be quite the same as a policy you take out with your normal car insurance.

Motor legal protection insurance is typically split into two types: BTE and ATE. This essentially translates to ‘before the event’ cover and ‘after the event cover’. When you buy a legal protection policy alongside your car insurance, you’ll be getting BTE, as you won’t yet have a situation where you need legal representation – you’re just making sure that you’re covered in case something happens in the future.

ATE cover is something you can take out after an accident if you find yourself in a position where you’re unable to pay legal fees. However, ATE policies will usually cost a lot more than a BTE and may not cover you for quite as much. What’s more, if you aren’t successful in your case, you will have still paid for your ATE cover, which may leave you in a worse position than when you started.

If you haven’t found a motor legal protection policy to suit your situation but need legal representation, you may be able to hire a lawyer who won’t charge a fee unless they win your case. However, you should be prepared to pay them a large portion of any payout you get.

Whether you’re looking for a new comprehensive car insurance policy with motor legal protection or want to explore your add-on options, we can help you find the type of cover that suits your needs. To start your journey, reach out to our team and get a quote for car insurance.

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