Last updated: 12/10/2020 | Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
Home Insurance Legal Cover
Legal expenses cover, also known a family legal protection, shields you from paying extortionate lawyers’ fees in the event of a court case involving you or your property.
It’s available as an add-on to home insurance, but also comes as standard on some policies. Check yours now to see if it’s sorted already!
In This Guide:
- Why do I need legal cover?
- What does legal cover involve?
- What is NOT covered?
- Can I purchase insurance after an accident has taken place?
- Am I more likely to win my case if I have legal cover?
- How do I get legal cover?
Why do I need legal cover?
Being a homeowner can be very tiring and expensive; unexpected costs arrive all the time and can sometimes lead to court action. Making sure you have the right insurance in place can help ease the pain somewhat.
If you have to enter into a legal dispute involving you or your property, you’ll find the legal fees quickly add up. According to gov.uk research, lawyers will charge around £300 per hour (at least) for such cases, which is beyond the reach of most households. If you have legal cover, you are protected up to a certain amount.
What does legal cover involve?
Any legal cover policy will set out a maximum amount of money you can claim to pay certain legal costs. According to independent financial researcher Defaqto, this is typically between £50,000 and £100,000.
The policy you choose will outline which situations are eligible for claiming, and this will differ depending on your insurance provider. Some of the most common are:
- Personal injury - if you have been injured and the other party denies responsibility, you could be eligible for a claim.
- Injury (serious or fatal) at the home - if you are sued because someone has been injured, fatally or otherwise, at your property, you might be able to claim both the legal fees and any compensation you are required to pay.
- Property damage – if you are in a dispute with a neighbour over damage to your or their property, legal cover can help with the costs.
- Boundary disputes – you may be eligible to claim over a dispute concerning disruption to borders between properties, for example the loss of natural light due to building extensions or excessive plant growth.
- Contractual disputes – when working with builders or surveyors it’s useful to have legal cover to protect you against being extorted.
- Infringement of consumer rights – if, for example, you buy an expensive piece of furniture that arrives damaged but the seller refuses to issue a refund, you might be obliged to take them to court. Legal cover should help with these costs.
- Employer dispute – in the event of unfair dismissal, or similar, you will want legal cover to help with the costs of a tribunal.
- Tax investigation – if you find yourself being investigated for dodgy taxes, legal cover can help cover the costs of defending yourself to the courts.
- Jury service – Legal cover can, in some cases, cover the wages lost whilst you’re on jury duty.
What is NOT covered?
Each policy is different, but there are several instances in which it is likely that a standard legal cover will not protect you. For example:
- If the amount you wish to claim is too low, it will not be considered worthwhile by the insurance company.
- Legal issues involving your car or motor vehicle won’t usually be covered. For this you need separate vehicle insurance.
- If the claim relates to work mandated by the government or a local authority, your insurer will not be liable to cover the costs.
- Matrimonial and libel cases
- Any case that can be covered by Legal Aid, for example a criminal trial.
Can I purchase insurance after an accident has taken place?
Technically yes, but it is always preferrable to be protected in advance.
After The Event Insurance (ATE Insurance) is a type of policy purchased after an accident or incident has taken place. This is usually done by the solicitor on behalf of a client.
Before The Event Insurance (BTE Insurance) is the legal cover you purchase before anything has happened, protecting you against unforeseen problems.
If you’re a new homeowner needing to make a claim regarding a dispute over the purchase, you are likely to encounter problems. Most policies stipulate you must have taken out a policy a certain number of days in advance of completing on the property, so it’s worth checking the fine print on this one.
Am I more likely to win my case if I have legal cover?
You will only be offered legal assistance by your insurer if they are confident that they can win your case.
In the event that they handle the claim for you and present you with a reasonable settlement, you are legally obligate to accept it. You are free to disagree, but you must then contact the Financial Ombudsman Service to lodge a formal complaint.
How do I get legal cover?
Legal cover is available both as a standalone policy and as an add-on to a standard home insurance policy. Use our home insurance comparison tool to see what options are available to you.