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Car insurance legal cover explained

If you need to make a legal claim following a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you’d be glad of having car insurance legal cover.
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What is car insurance legal expenses cover?

Motor legal protection, also known as car insurance legal cover, helps you claim for losses and compensation that aren’t covered by a standard car insurance policy if you’re in a car accident that’s not your fault. It will cover your legal fees up to an agreed limit – usually at least £100,000 – so you can make legal claims for financial losses or compensation for personal injury.

Many motor legal protection policies also provide separate cover to pay legal fees if you’re prosecuted for a road traffic offence like speeding – typically up to £10,000.

You can usually choose to add motor legal protection to your car insurance policy for a small extra cost. Legal bills can be extremely high, running into many thousands of pounds, so car insurance legal cover could come in handy.

Motor legal protection can cover a range of legal expenses, including claims for:

  • Personal injury to you or your passengers

  • Damage to your car if you don’t have comprehensive cover

  • Loss of earnings if you're unable to work due to an injury

  • Loss of possessions if they're damaged in an accident

  • Travel costs if you’re unable to use your car

  • Expenses to do with making your claim like phone calls and travel to court, as well as your solicitors’ fees

  • Your excess towards car insurance claims

  • Helpline that offers you confidential legal advice should you need it.

It’s worth thinking about the pros and cons of car insurance legal cover before you buy.

  • You could get tens of thousands of pounds paid in legal costs

  • You’ll get quick and easy access to legal advice, usually through a helpline

  • You could get a major pay-out if you win a court case or secure a favourable legal settlement – including compensation for injury, loss of earnings and other expenses

  • Car insurance legal cover can be a relatively cheap add-on to your car insurance policy

  • Your insurer can refuse to fund your legal claim if it believes you don’t have a reasonable chance of winning the case, even if it’s already in the courts

  • Your insurer may also refuse to back your case if the amount you’re claiming for is less than your legal costs

  • Even if your insurer agrees your legal claim has a good chance of success, you still might not win the case

It depends as the cost of cover differs from insurer to insurer, but you might be able to add motor legal expenses cover to your car insurance policy for as little as £15 to £35. This isn’t much when you think that car insurance legal cover could save you thousands of pounds later on.

Some insurers may also include legal expense cover as standard with certain car insurance policies. You can filter car insurance quotes based on whether they include motor legal protection when you search for your next policy.

It’s always worth checking the policy wording when you buy car insurance legal cover, including when you get it as an add-on, as what’s covered can vary.

Motor legal protection isn’t mandatory but it’s good to have – if you’re in a car accident that wasn’t your fault and you want to make a legal claim, then car insurance legal cover could save you a lot of money on legal bills. Lawyers’ fees can be sky-high, easily running into tens of thousands of pounds.

But before you buy car insurance legal cover, it’s important to check you don’t already have it. Some car insurance policies include motor legal protection as standard. You might even have motor legal protection with your bank account or through the legal expenses cover you took out with a home insurance policy. Some people also have a limited amount of legal expenses cover through their employers or trades union membership.

Motor legal protection isn’t your only option. Here are some alternatives to car insurance legal cover to consider:

Savings: You could just use your savings to pay lawyers’ fees, though this isn’t a practical option for many people as legal action can be extremely costly.

No-win, no-fee solicitors: They typically charge a success fee of 25% if you win your case, so you’d lose a significant proportion of your claim.

After-the-event (ATE) insurance: You can take out ATE after a car accident to cover legal costs but it’s a lot more pricey than motor legal protection cover.

If you need to make a car insurance legal cover claim, you should contact your insurer on their claims line. It’s a good idea to have your policy documents to hand when you call them.

You’ll need to provide full details of the incident, including when and where it happened, as well as any supporting evidence, such as photos of your damaged car.

Your insurer will then either appoint a solicitor for you or let you appoint your own representative, depending on your motor legal protection policy wording. Your insurer will contact any other relevant parties.

If you’re in an accident, you’re meant to tell your insurer about it even if you’re not planning to make a claim – usually within 24 hours. It’s also your responsibility to report accidents to the police, immediately in an emergency or otherwise within 24 hours.


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