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Motor legal protection: who needs it and who doesn’t

Motor legal protection: who needs it and who doesn’t
Image source: Getty Images

A car accident can have severe consequences, some of which extend beyond the immediate or the obvious. While your car insurance will cover most losses, others, such as your legal costs, might not be covered.

Paying for these costs, especially if the accident was not your fault, can seem unfair. That’s where motor legal protection, also called legal expenses cover, comes in.

Here’s a useful guide on what motor legal protection is and who needs it.

What is motor legal protection?

Motor legal protection is additional insurance cover that protects you against legal expenses that might result from an accident that wasn’t your fault.

It covers the expenses of any legal action you might take against another driver or that might be taken against you.

Some insurance companies actually include legal expenses cover as part of their comprehensive car insurance. Others offer it as an add-on that can be included in your cover for an additional fee.

Typically, motor legal protection will cover up to £100,000 of your legal costs, but this figure might be lower depending on your provider.

What is included in motor legal protection?

Coverage varies from one car insurance provider to another. It’s therefore a good idea to read the small print of the motor legal protection before adding it to your policy to establish what is and what isn’t covered.  

Here are a few of the expenses that motor legal protection might cover:

  • Solicitors’ fees
  • Personal injury costs (for you and your passengers)
  • Loss of earnings due an accident (i.e. if you are not able to work because of an accident)
  • Medical expenses if you suffer injuries in an accident and require treatment
  • Overnight accommodation and travel costs resulting from the loss of your car
  • Loss of possessions
  • Damage to your car (if you don’t have comprehensive insurance)
  • Out-of-pocket expenses such as phone calls to insurers

One thing worth noting is that motor legal protection only covers the costs associated with making or defending claims. It doesn’t cover the compensation to a person making a claim against you.

Why might you need motor legal protection?

At first glance, motor legal protection might not seem as useful as other cover, such as breakdown cover. But there are times when losses from an accident, particularly one that wasn’t your fault, are just too much and trying to recoup them makes perfect sense.

If, for example, you were to suffer significant injuries and need expensive private physiotherapy, motor legal protection could save you a considerable amount of money. 

Cover is relatively inexpensive (it typically adds between £20 and £30 to the cost of your policy), it can be more than worth adding to your policy if it’s not already included.

How do you make a claim?

The first step in making your claim is contacting your insurance provider. Most providers have a dedicated phone number or an online service for this.

You should then provide a full account of the incident, answering any questions they might have along the way. It’s a good idea to have all of your policy documents close by so that you can refer to them whenever you need to.

Your provider will assess your claim and then send the details to its lawyers. The lawyers will handle your case from there. They’ll keep you informed throughout and work with you to decide whether any additional supporting info or evidence is needed.

Are there any alternatives?

If you don’t fancy adding motor legal protection to your car insurance, there are few alternatives to help you with your legal expenses:

  • ‘No win, no fee’ solicitors – here, you’ll only pay your solicitor’s fee if you win your case. You might still end up paying for things like court fees as well as the other side’s legal costs if you lose, so read the fine print carefully. Also note that if you win, a significant percentage of any compensation awarded will go to the solicitor. This might leave you with an amount that is not sufficient to cover your losses.
  • After the event insurance – this is an insurance that you take after an accident has already occurred to cover the legal costs you must pay if your claim is unsuccessful.
  • Emergency fund – an emergency fund can come in handy in unexpected situations like a car accident. Legal costs can run into thousands of pounds, so it’s a good idea to have a respectable amount saved up.

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