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Is motor legal protection worth it?

Legal cover for car insurance is an optional extra that you can add to your car insurance policy. But how much does motor legal cover cost?

What does it cover? And importantly, is motor legal protection worth it?

Legal cover for car insurance is an optional extra that you can add to your car insurance policy. But how much does motor legal cover cost?

What does it cover? And importantly, is motor legal protection worth it?

Written by
Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
Last Updated
13 NOVEMBER 2023
7 min read
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What is motor legal protection?

Motor legal protection, also known as legal expenses cover, is an optional extra you can add to your car insurance. It could cover legal expenses up to a certain limit if an accident you’re involved in ends up in court.

Motor legal protection could help you recoup any losses that aren’t covered by your regular car insurance policy. For example:

  • Your excess – the amount you pay towards a claim.
  • Medical costs – if you or your passengers are injured.
  • Travel costs – if you’re no longer able to use your car.
  • Loss of earnings – if you’re unable to work following an accident.

What does motor legal protection cover?

Motor legal protection could help cover the costs of legal advice and solicitors’ fees associated with pursuing or defending a car insurance claim that’s not covered by your regular car insurance.

It could also provide legal cover for other car-related situations – for example, disputes when buying or selling a car, or defending yourself if accused of a motoring offence.

When you buy a car insurance policy, depending on the insurance provider, you’ll be offered the choice of various add-ons – such as breakdown cover or travel out of the UK. You could also add legal protection to car insurance.

At Compare the Market, you can compare quotes from insurance providers who provide a minimum of £50,000 in legal expenses cover.

How much does motor legal protection cover cost?

Motor legal protection cover could typically cost between £10 and £25 a year. However, some insurance providers offer comprehensive car insurance with motor legal expenses cover included as standard within the cost of the policy.

If you’re considering car insurance legal cover, it’s worth shopping around. That way, you can compare policies to decide which option would be better value for money and which offers the right level of cover.

Don’t just look at the price either, read the small print to see what’s included and in which scenarios you would be covered.

Is motor legal protection worth the cost?

Motor legal protection isn’t mandatory, but it could potentially save you thousands of pounds in expensive legal fees should your case end up in court. If it’s a complicated legal case, the fees could be much higher, so adding motor legal protection might be worth it.

Some policies also include free legal advice on a range of personal matters, such as employment, family, conveyancing and probate (administering the will of a deceased person).

Depending on your policy, you may be able to call a 24-hour helpline so you can access legal advice quickly on car insurance and other subjects. This could be a huge benefit if it’s a service you’ll actually use and one you couldn’t afford to pay for on your own.
However, remember that: 

  • There’s no guarantee your claim will be taken on by a lawyer, especially if it’s unclear who’s to blame for an incident. 
  • It won’t cover you if you were at fault for the accident related to your claim.
  • Your claim might also be rejected if too much time has passed since the incident, or the amount you’re contesting isn’t worth the expense of a court case.
  • Insurance providers usually have their own panel of solicitors, so you may not be able to choose who represents you.

Did you know?

A condition of virtually all motor legal protection policies is that your case will only be taken on if there’s a ‘reasonable prospect of success’.

According to the Financial Ombudsman, this means if you have a 51% or more chance of winning.

Do I need motor legal protection cover?

Unlike with car insurance, motor legal protection cover isn’t a legal requirement. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth paying a little extra for it.

Before you buy motor legal protection cover, check the following:

  • If legal expenses are already included in your existing car insurance policy.
  • If you’re a named driver on someone else’s policy, check whether they have motor legal protection cover and if you’re also covered.
  • If you’re a member of a trade union, check whether you already have access to free legal advice.
  • If you have motor legal expenses insurance that covers motoring from another insurance or banking package.

Pros and cons of motor legal protection

As with all add-ons, it’s a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons before deciding if legal cover for car insurance is worth the extra cost.

Motor legal protection advantages:

  • You could potentially save a lot of money in expensive legal fees
  • It could help you recoup your out-of-pocket costs
  • It could cover the costs of both pursuing or defending a car insurance claim
  • Many policies include free legal advice on a whole range of personal matters, not just car insurance
  • Motor legal protection usually comes with a helpline providing 24/7 access to legal advice.

Motor legal protection disadvantages:

  • It’s an extra cost that could bump up the price of your car insurance
  • You won’t be covered if you’re at fault
  • There’s no guarantee your case will be taken on if there’s a likely chance you could lose or the costs are too high in relation to the amount you’re claiming
  • You may not get to choose which lawyer represents you
  • Your claim might be rejected if too much time has passed since the incident.

Is motor legal expenses cover the same as liability cover?

The terminology can be quite confusing, but motor legal expenses cover and liability cover refer to two different types of insurance.

Legal expenses insurance

Motor legal expenses covers the legal costs associated with pursuing a car insurance claim or defending yourself against claims against you following a non-fault accident. It could cover you for legal advice, court fees and solicitors’ fees up to the amount stated on your policy.

It could also help you recoup any damages and expenses that aren’t covered by your car insurance policy. 

Legal liability insurance

Legal liability insurance helps cover compensation you’re ordered to pay if you injure or cause the death of another person, or cause damage to someone else’s property. Third-party liability is required by law to drive a car in the UK.

It’s important to read the terms of any policy carefully before you buy to see what’s specifically covered in terms of legal expenses and legal liability.

How do I buy motor legal expenses insurance?

Legal expenses insurance is sometimes included in comprehensive car insurance policies.If not, you can normally add on car legal cover to your insurance when you buy it. This is sometimes known as ‘before the event’ legal cover (or BTE).

If you find yourself in a pickle and need to pay legal expenses to pursue or defend against a claim, you can find a standalone ‘after the event’ (ATE) policy.

What are the alternatives to motor legal protection?

If you don’t want to buy dedicated motor legal protection, there are alternatives that could help you avoid high legal fees.

After the event insurance (ATE)

You can buy after the event (ATE) insurance after someone makes a claim against you that you dispute, or you decide to pursue a claim that’s not covered by your car insurance policy.

The plus side of ATE motor legal expenses cover is that you won’t be paying for any insurance you don’t need. But it’s considerably more expensive than before the event (BTE) legal expenses cover.

No win, no fee

There are also ‘no win, no fee’ solicitors who you won’t have to pay if your case is unsuccessful. Bear in mind, though, that you’re likely to have to pay them a significant percentage of any compensation or damages if you do win. Read any fine print carefully before you sign up to anything to make sure it will be worthwhile.

Legal aid

In some cases, you might be able to find discounted or free legal advice to help you with your claim. You may qualify for legal aid, so long as you’re not making a personal injury claim.

Comprehensive car insurance with legal cover

Rather than add legal cover to your car insurance policy, it’s worth checking whether you’d be better off upgrading to a more comprehensive policy that includes motor legal expenses as standard.


You could also self-insure your legal protection. If you put the same amount of money into a bank account, paying interest, you could use this if you ever needed to pay out for legal fees. If you don’t, the money is there to use as you want.

Compare car insurance with motor legal protection cover

A good way to decide whether motor legal protection cover is worth it is to shop around and compare deals.

Once you have a list of insurance providers who offer motor legal protection, you can easily compare quotes to search for the right car insurance deal for you.

Just remember to give the small print a look over. It’s not a fun job but it could save you a lot in the long run as it’s important to buy cover that’s right for you.

Frequently asked questions

Can I get motor legal protection part-way through my policy?

You should be able to add motor legal protection at any time during the length of your policy. Simply call your insurance provider and ask them to update your policy to include motor legal protection.

They’ll need to adjust the price of your premium and might also charge an additional admin fee to make the changes.

Can I buy standalone motor legal protection?

You can buy motor legal protection as a standalone policy. However, it might be easier and less hassle to simply add it to your car insurance policy.

Can I remove motor legal expenses cover from my policy?

If you added motor legal protection cover to your policy as an extra, you’ll normally be able to remove it without paying anything and see a reduction in your premiums going forward.

You might also be able to claim a partial refund for any cover you’ve paid for upfront that you haven’t used. Think carefully about the positives and negatives of removing legal expenses cover before you speak to your insurance provider.

If legal expenses cover is included as standard in your policy, you won’t be able to remove it.

Does motor legal protection cover passengers?

If legal expenses cover is included on your car insurance policy, it can help you claim compensation for any injuries suffered by any named drivers on the policy and any passengers in the vehicle at the time of an accident. This is as long as the solicitors enlisted by your insurance provider agree that your claims have a reasonable chance of success.

Does motor legal protection cover uninsured drivers?

Legal expenses cover can help you pay for legal advice and solicitors’ fees if you have an accident involving an uninsured driver and you need to take them to court to recoup damages and expenses.

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