Is motor legal protection cover worth it?

Motor legal protection cover, also known as legal expenses cover, is an optional extra that you can add to your car insurance policy.

But how much does motor legal protection cost? What does it cover? And is it worth it?

Motor legal protection cover, also known as legal expenses cover, is an optional extra that you can add to your car insurance policy.

But how much does motor legal protection cost? What does it cover? And is it worth it?

Written by
Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
Last Updated
6 min read
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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 motor legal protection.

Many insurance providers offer up to £100,000 in legal expenses cover, although the amount offered will vary by policy and may be considerably lower or higher. 

At Comparethemarket, 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 £35 a year. However, some insurance providers offer comprehensive car insurance with legal expenses cover included as standard within the cost of the policy.

If you’re considering motor legal protection cover, it’s worth shopping around and comparing policies to decide which option would be better value for money and offers the right cover for you. 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?

Considering the relatively small annual cost, motor legal protection cover could potentially save you thousands of pounds in expensive legal fees. If it’s a complicated legal case, the fees could be much higher, so it may be worth adding the cover to your policy.

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 have a choice in who represents you.

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 peace of mind.

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, you might already have access to free legal advice.
  • If you have legal expenses insurance that covers motoring from another insurance or banking package.

Is legal expenses cover the same as liability cover?

The terminology can be quite confusing, but legal expenses cover (or motor legal protection as it’s also known) and liability cover refer to two different types of insurance.

  • Legal expenses insurance 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 – to help you recoup any damages and expenses that aren’t covered by your car insurance policy. These are also called ‘uninsured losses’ and include:
    • Any excess you’ve paid towards a claim
    • Medical treatment for you and your passengers
    • Car repair costs, if you don’t have comprehensive insurance
    • Loss of earnings, if you’re unable to work due to injury
    • Travel costs, such as rental car hire if you can’t use yours.
  • 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 they specifically cover in terms of legal expenses and legal liability. 

How do I buy legal expenses insurance?

Legal expenses insurance is sometimes included in comprehensive car insurance policies. If not, you can normally add on motor legal protection to your policy 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 legal expenses insurance?

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 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.

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.

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.

Rather than add on motor legal protection to your car insurance policy, it’s worth checking if you’d be better off upgrading to a more comprehensive policy that includes 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 the cost 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 find the right car insurance deal for you. Just remember to give the small print a scan. 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 remove 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 – 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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