What is legal cover?
It provides financial protection against legal fees and losses following an accident that was not your fault.
Legal cover is used to reclaim uninsured losses not covered by your standard car insurance policy. Our guide to car insurance explains more about what your main policy can cover.
Legal cover is often offered as an optional benefit you can choose to add to your policy for an additional cost.
Alternatively, you can get a free standalone legal cover policy from Free Motor Legal. Visit their website to find out more about what they offer.
How much will it cost?
Adding legal cover will usually cost between £20 and £30, but if you have a fully comprehensive policy it is worth checking if you already have cover as standard.
What does it cover?
You can use your legal cover to claim back uninsured losses, including:
Injury to you or any passengers, including medical costs
Damage to your car if you do not have a comprehensive policy
Excess you have to pay after a crash that was not your fault
Loss of earnings
Expenses like taxi costs and phone calls to your insurer
Legal cover does not pay out compensation to you but recovers the legal costs you incur when you pursue a third party for damages.
Many insurers offer legal cover of up to £100,000, but it is worth looking for at least £50,000 worth of cover to ensure you are not left out of pocket, as legal costs can mount up.
If you are unable to work following an accident that was not your fault, and lose out on £10,000 of earnings, you could reclaim this through your legal expenses cover.
If successful you would reclaim the loss of earning from the other party, and any legal expenses like court fees will also be covered.
Do you need legal cover?
It depends on your personal circumstances and preference. There is no legal requirement to have it, but it could save you a lot of money. Ask yourself:
Are you already covered? Check to see if legal expenses are already included with your standard policy.
Do you have a comprehensive policy? If yes then you are less likely to need legal cover. If not, work out whether it would be cheaper to upgrade your cover to comprehensive, or add legal expenses insurance.
Are you likely to need it? Think about whether the peace of mind of being covered is worth the added cost.
This could be an alternative to a legal cover policy, and can be used after the event. This means you would only use a no win no fee lawyer when you needed to.
However, they will only take your case if it is likely to be successful, and you will lose a large chunk of what you reclaim in fees. Although you will not pay solicitors fees if you do not win, you may need to pay any other legal expenses.
How to make a claim
Make sure you have all your details to hand including your policy number and car registration
Call your insurer on their claims line (you can find this on your policy documents)
Explain what has happened so they can register your claim
Your insurer will then appoint a solicitor to act for you, or you may be able to nominate your own representation. They will also contact the other party's insurer to let them know you want to recover costs not covered by your insurance.
Read our guide on making a car insurance claim for more details on the process.
Will your claim be accepted?
Your insurer may not accept your legal expenses claim if it is unlikely it would be successful, for example if it is not clear who is at fault for an accident.
You may also be unable to claim for:
Compensation or fines you are ordered to pay by the courts
Expenses for damage you intentionally cause
The cost of prosecutions for parking offenses, drink driving or violent conduct
Legal expenses incurred prior to approval
Your insurer may also reject your claim if too much time has passed since the incident, or the amount you are contesting is not worth going to court for.
Check your policy for a full list of exclusions that apply to your cover.
Can you remove it from your policy?
If you have added legal cover to your car insurance you should be able to have it removed at no extra cost. You will then receive a partial refund for the cover you have not used.
If the cover is included in your policy as standard you may not be able to have it removed. Contact your insurer to find out where you stand.
Think carefully before you choose to remove legal cover; although it will reduce the cost of your insurance it could potentially save you thousands if you need to use it.