Motor legal protection

If you’re involved in a motoring accident that wasn’t your fault, here’s how motor legal protection could help you recover losses.

Kim Jones
Kim Jones
Updated 13 December 2021  | 3 mins read

What is motor legal protection?

It’s an add-on to a motor insurance policy that can help ensure you don’t lose out financially if you’re involved in a road accident that wasn’t your fault.

Key points

  • Motor legal protection can help cover the costs of pursuing a compensation claim after an accident that wasn’t your fault.
  • It can help you try to recover costs for things like medical bills or loss of earnings.
  • Your claim needs to have a ‘reasonable prospect of success’ to be accepted by your insurer.

What does motor legal protection cover?

It covers the cost of your legal expenses if you take action to pursue compensation from the driver at fault through the courts.

Policies usually cover up to £100,000 for your legal assistance, representation and court costs. But some only offer up to £50,000, so check policies carefully.

Motor legal protection - often called legal expenses cover - helps you try to recoup losses and expenses that aren’t covered by your main motor insurance policy. These are called ‘uninsured losses’ and can include things like:

  • Loss of earnings if you can’t work for a period of time as a consequence of the accident.
  • Medical costs, such as physiotherapy, if you’re injured in the accident.
  • Travel costs and car hire charges.
  • Financial losses such as your policy excess.

It could also:

  • Pay towards legal defence costs to contest prosecutions for a motoring offence.
  • Help with disputes with a seller or garage concerning your car.

Many motor legal protection policies also offer a 24-hour Legal Advice Line where you can get confidential legal advice on any personal legal problem.

What isn’t covered by motor legal protection?

Most insurers won’t cover claims that they feel don’t have a ‘reasonable prospect of success’. This usually translates as a 51% or more chance of winning.

They’ll examine each case on merit and are allowed to refuse to fund legal costs if they feel the chances of the case being resolved in your favour are less than this.

They may also refuse to cover the costs if the amount you’re contesting is less than the legal costs that would be associated with your claim.

Unsurprisingly, cover won’t be provided if you were driving without a licence, while disqualified or under the influence of drink or drugs.

Is motor legal protection compulsory?

It’s not required by law. But it can prove invaluable and save you thousands of pounds if you find yourself in a legal dispute related to your vehicle.

How does motor legal protection work?

To make a motor legal protection claim, you’ll need to contact your insurance provider, who will pass it on to their specialist claim department. Their legal team will assess the chances of your case having a successful outcome and, as long as they feel there is more than a 50% chance that your claim will succeed, a solicitor will be appointed to act for you.

Most cases won’t end up going to court and can be resolved through negotiation. But if your case does go to court, all your costs will be covered, subject to the maximum payout limit.

It’s important to know that funding can be withdrawn at any point through your case if your legal team feels your chances of winning have decreased - perhaps due to new information that’s been received since taking on your case.

How much does legal expense cover cost?

On average, it costs between £20 to £30 a year.

When you take out a motor insurance policy you’ll usually see a box to tick if you want to take out this cover.

It’s worth checking if you already have this cover linked to another financial product, though. Sometimes it comes as a perk with premium bank accounts, for example.

Just be sure to check that the cover applies to motor-related claims.

Can I use my legal cover if the accident is my fault?

This type of insurance won’t usually cover you if you’re involved in legal action due to an accident where you were at fault.

Can I buy legal cover after my car insurance policy has started?

In most cases, if you want to add this cover to your current policy, you can call your provider and pay the relevant fee for the remainder of the year.

Are there any alternatives to motor legal protection cover?

No-win, no-fee

With this arrangement, if you don’t win your claim, you pay nothing to your solicitor.

If you do win, your solicitor will take a ‘success fee’, but you keep the majority of the compensation awarded to you.

After the event insurance

This type of insurance can be purchased after an accident has taken place for a personal injury claim.

It covers the legal costs to make the claim as well as the legal costs of the other party if your claim was unsuccessful.

It’s used alongside no-win, no-fee arrangements.