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Car insurance legal protection cover explained

Kasey Cassells
Written by Kasey Cassells, Senior content editor

Edited by Dan Moore, Finance Writer, 28 January 2022

Car insurance legal cover is available as an add-on for many insurance policies — but how can it cover you in the event of a claim?
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Two toy cars involved in a car accident
What is car insurance legal expenses cover?

There’s more to car insurance than simply covering the cost of repairs, compensation and loss. It’ll also help you to settle legal disputes that could otherwise prove very costly.

Motor legal protection is a type of additional protection on your car insurance that helps cover the cost of legal claims. It’s used to recoup expenses known as ‘uninsured losses’ that aren’t covered by your standard car insurance policy.

You can usually choose to add legal expenses cover to your car insurance policy for an additional fee. Alternatively, you can buy standalone legal cover car insurance. 

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Also known as car insurance legal cover, this type of insurance will pay your legal fees if you decide to take legal action following a motor accident that wasn't your fault.

This might be used to make a claim against the other driver, or to give you legal protection if someone else is making a claim against you. It can cover:

  • Personal injury: to yourself or any 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 and aren't covered elsewhere

  • Expenses: such as travel costs to court hearings and phone calls to solicitors

  • Excess charges: if you were required to pay a portion of a car insurance claim before the insurer stepped in

Car insurance claims against uninsured drivers
Car insurance claims against uninsured drivers

Do I need legal cover on car insurance?

Should you decide to make a claim against another driver, solicitors’ fees can be expensive, but legal protection insurance will ensure you’re covered. It can also protect you if, following an accident, the other driver sues you. In this case the insurance would cover the other party’s solicitor’s bill, as well as their claim if they win.

It’s important to note that this type of insurance will only cover the legal costs of making or defending a claim. It won’t pay you compensation or give you a lump sum of cash following an accident, even if it was not your fault. 

Some car insurance policies include legal expenses cover as standard, but it’s wise to check how much cover each policy offers. A decent policy should cover you for up to £100,000 worth of legal cover. So weigh up the cost of the premium against the level of cover on offer.

Many car insurance policies allow you to have legal expenses cover added, usually for an extra cost of typically from £15 to £35. It’s a relatively low fee for what could save you thousands of pounds later on. 

You can filter car insurance quotes based on whether they include legal expenses when you search for your next policy, so you only see those that suit your needs.

Always look at what’s covered under the terms of the legal expenses insurance, as not all policies offer the same protection. 

If you’ve found car insurance that ticks all the boxes, except on motor legal protection you could buy a standalone policy, typically for around the same outlay as the add-on policy. Just ensure the provider is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority and check for reviews.

There are several pros and cons relating to motor insurance legal protection, which you should be aware of and consider when scrutinising policies before deciding on whether to make a purchase. These include:

  • you could save thousands of pounds in legal costs

  • you’ll have quick and easy and access to legal advice, usually through a helpline

  • you may be able to recover money lost due to an injury, loss of earnings or travel expenses

  • it can be a relatively inexpensive add-on to your car insurance policy

  • your claim may not be successful if your legal defence is weak 

  • you may not be covered if the amount of money being contested is not high enough to cover legal costs

  • if your lawyers believe the case is no longer going in your favour, the insurer could stop covering legal expenses before the case is over

To make a claim on your motor legal protection you should contact your insurance provider on their claims line at your earliest convenience. You should be able to find the phone number on your policy documents, which you’ll need to have with you when you call.  

You’ll need to provide full details of the incident as well as any supporting evidence, such as photos of your damaged car and ideally the location of the incident. 

Your insurer will then appoint a solicitor for you, or you may be able to nominate your own representative, depending on the policy wording. Your insurer will contact any other relevant parties. 

Motor legal protection isn’t your only option.  Here are some others to consider: 

Savings: You could just draw on savings, although given the potential size of any legal fees involved this could prove very costly. 

'No-win, no-fee’ solicitors: These offer what’s also known as ‘after the event insurance’, which can prove far more costly than motor legal protection, taking a relatively large slice of any award you get for winning your case. 

Fee-charging solicitors: potentially cheaper than their no-win, no fee colleagues, but you’d have to pay regardless of the outcome of your case. 

Finally, unless you just put aside the idea of getting legal cover altogether, it’s worth checking to see whether your employer or trade union offers any form of legal protection you could draw on. 

While the scope of potential protection may be narrower than that offered through motor legal protection policies, it might help with specific claims, such as for personal injury.

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