There are many types of legal dispute that can affect householders and their families, but they tend to have one thing in common: they cost an awful lot of money.
Fees for legal professionals can reach £300 per hour at least, according to gov.uk, which puts bills beyond the reach of most household budgets. This is where legal protection insurance, sometimes known as family legal expenses cover, can be valuable.
What is home insurance legal cover?
Legal cover is available as an add-on to normal home insurance and helps pay any legal costs incurred as a home owner. Sometimes it’s included in your policy at no extra charge, and sometimes there’s a small amount added to your premiums.
What does legal protection involve?
In all cases, a legal protection policy provides a maximum amount of money you can claim to pay your legal costs in certain situations. This amount will usually be £50,000 or £100,000.
Policies will fund your legal costs in a variety of cases, and many but not all of the issues covered will relate to your home. Situations in which it might be useful include the following:
- Seeking compensation if you have been injured or have suffered a financial or property loss and the other party involved is denying responsibility
- If you are sued because someone is injured or killed while at your home and you need to defend yourself from blame through the courts. In addition to your legal costs, the policy may fund the cost of compensation you’re required to pay by the courts if you’re found liable
- If you get into a dispute with a neighbour over damage to their property which they allege is your fault – a tree in your garden falling onto their property and causing damage, for example
- Disputes concerning the location of boundaries between two properties, or the loss of natural light due to the building of an extension or plant growth. Leylandii trees are a classic example of vegetation that grows rapidly to great heights and causes annoyance
- Contractual disputes with builders or other professionals such as surveyors are also likely to fall within the scope of your legal protection policy
- If you believe your consumer rights have been infringed – perhaps you ordered an item of furniture that is damaged when it arrived at your home, but the retailer refuses a refund and you are obliged to take them to court
- If you find yourself in a dispute with your employer, such as a potential case of unfair dismissal. Money from the policy could support you at a tribunal
- Similarly, if you find yourself on the wrong end of a tax investigation, you could potentially claim for the cost of defending yourself
There are numerous other situations in which disagreements could end up in court. If you find yourself in this sort of predicament, it’s best to contact your insurer at the earliest opportunity to see whether the policy provides cover for your circumstances.
Having legal protection of this kind could determine your course of action and whether you proceed or not.
Do I need home insurance legal cover?
Legal cover is a useful extra if you’re a home owner – there are all sorts of legal costs you might run into in the course of owning your own place.
It adds £35 a year to the average combined home insurance premium, which means legal cover won’t break the bank. However many people don’t feel the need to take it out at all.
What information do insurers need?
Your insurer will usually ask that there is a reasonable prospect of your case succeeding – in other words, they won’t allow you to claim if they think your case is a lost cause from the start. They will have a panel of solicitors who will help them make a decision.
They will also suggest that you use a solicitor from their panel to fight your case, but you can ask to use a firm of your own choosing if you prefer. The main proviso here is that any solicitor you choose must charge what they say is a reasonable fee and must agree to the terms of your legal protection insurance policy.
Some insurance companies set a limit on how much they will pay a solicitor per hour in legal expenses, so any firm you chose would need to abide by this.
Most policies include a free legal advice helpline. You may be able to get the information or guidance you need from this service without having to start legal proceedings.
Note that most legal protection policies that are sold alongside home insurance will not provide cover for cases arising out of car accidents or motoring disputes. If you want to have this sort of cover, you can buy it as an add-on to your car insurance.
It’s also worth noting that legal protection policies are designed to cover the cost of future claims. You cannot claim for the costs arising out of something that has happened in the past or which is ongoing but which started in the past.
How to get home insurance legal cover
When you get your home insurance quotes from MoneySuperMarket, you’ll be shown a range of extras that you can add to your cover.
You can choose legal protection and then confirm that you want to buy it when you click through to the insurance company’s site. Other potential add-ons include home emergency cover, cover for lost keys and accidental damage protection.