Do I need legal cover as part of my home insurance?

If you need some legal advice, or have problem you need help resolving, legal expenses cover could come in handy. Find out how it works and whether you should include it in your home insurance quote.

If you need some legal advice, or have problem you need help resolving, legal expenses cover could come in handy. Find out how it works and whether you should include it in your home insurance quote.

Rachel Lacey
Insurance and money expert
minute read
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Last Updated 26 SEPTEMBER 2022

What is legal expenses cover?

Legal expenses cover, also known as family legal protection or Legal expense insurance (LEI), covers the cost of legal advice and representation for a range of common disputes or claims that may be made against you. 

This could include: 

  • Someone making a claim against you after injuring themselves in your home 
  • Tradesmen do a poor job in your home but still demanding full payment 
  • A property dispute with your neighbours 
  • Someone claims you’ve misrepresented your home during the sale process.

LEI can typically be added to your home insurance as an optional extra, but some policies may include some legal cover as standard.

The amount of legal cover offered is typically between £50,000 and £100,000. Some cheaper policies may have an upper limit of just £25,000 – so it’s important to check the details.

Many insurance providers also offer a 24/7 legal helpline, as well as access to downloadable legal documents and templates.

It’s important to know that your policy won’t guarantee you’ll get legal representation. You’ll only be covered if you’ve a ‘reasonable chance’ of winning your claim. That means a likelihood of 51% or more.

What’s included in home insurance legal expenses cover?

In addition to property-related legal assistance, home insurance LEI can also cover:  

  • Personal injury claims 
  • Employment disputes, such as unfair dismissal or discrimination  
  • Disputes over faulty or damaged goods  
  • Issues with neighbours, such as noise and boundary disputes 
  • Disputes related to buying or selling a house  
  • Tax disputes  
  • Medical negligence claims 
  • Loss of salary if you’re called to do jury service.  

Terms and conditions will apply, so it’s important to check the policy wording carefully before you buy.

What’s not included in home insurance legal cover?

It’s always infuriating when insurance claims are rejected, so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with your policy and ensure you understand what it does and doesn’t cover. 

The areas your policy doesn’t cover are known as the exclusions. These will, of course, vary between providers, but the following scenarios would typically be excluded in most plans:  

  • Compensation payments
  • Ongoing issues and disputes that began before you started your policy
  • Legal claims that have less than 51% chance of success
  • Motoring claims – check whether your car insurance includes motor legal protection
  • Matrimonial disputes and divorce proceedings
  • Libel cases
  • Disputes that can be covered by Legal Aid, such as a criminal trial.

How much does legal expenses insurance cost?

It will typically cost between £25 and £35 a year to add legal cover to your home insurance. Costs will vary according to the level of cover provided, so if this is important to you, it’s worth taking it into account when selecting your home insurance.

Is legal expenses insurance the same as liability cover?

Legal expenses and liability insurance refer to two different types of cover: 

  • Legal expenses insurance can help you pay for legal advice and cover solicitor fees if you need to take legal action or defend a claim made against you.  
  • Liability insurance is there to help pay the compensation in case anyone brings a claim against you. It can cover you if someone gets injured in your home or for damages if, for example, your kids are playing football in the garden and a wayward shot breaks your neighbour’s window. Your home insurance will normally include liability insurance as standard but if you work or run a business from home and you have clients visiting, you’ll probably need to arrange extra cover.

Is it worth taking out home insurance legal expenses cover?

This is really down to you. But if you consider that solicitors’ fees can start at around £175 an hour, rising to over £500 an hour for a more experienced solicitor in London, access to a dedicated legal helpline alone could make it worthwhile. 

Before you decide to buy legal expense cover as an add-on to your home insurance, check whether it’s already included. When getting a quote through Compare the Market, we’ll show you on the results page the policies that include legal expenses and those that don’t, as well as the cost to add the cover should you want it.

It’s also worth checking whether you have any legal cover included as part of a bank account or another service, so you don’t double up on cover.

Bear in mind that the legal expense cover that you might have included on your car insurance, will only apply to motoring claims.

Some buildings insurance and home contents policies include family legal protection, as standard.

What is 'after the event' insurance?

Legal expenses cover is usually bought ‘before the event’ or BTE, as an add-on to a home insurance policy to protect you in case something happens in the future and you need legal representation. ‘After the event’ (or ATE) cover is bought, as the name suggests, after something has happened.

ATE insurance is usually tied into no win, no fee court cases, meaning you won’t pay your premium until after your claim has won. Solicitors may ask to purchase ATE insurance on your behalf, to make sure their fees are covered even if they don’t win and, if necessary, to cover the legal costs of the other party involved.

Where can I find home insurance with legal expenses cover?

You can compare home insurance with legal cover right here, with Compare the Market. Tell us a bit about you, your home and any specific features or add-ons you want to include and we’ll send you a list of suitable quotes to choose from. 

Whether you decide to opt for legal expenses cover or not, comparing home insurance with us is a good way to find a great deal.

Frequently asked question

Can I buy legal expenses cover separately?

You can’t normally buy legal expenses cover as a standalone product. It generally comes included in your home insurance or it’s added on as an extra to your policy. You can, however, arrange after the event legal expenses cover separately, often through your solicitor.

Can I remove legal expenses cover from my home insurance policy?

If you added legal expenses cover to your policy, you should be able to remove it. Give your provider a call to get the ball rolling. However, if legal expenses cover came included in your policy as standard, you won’t be able to take it off.

Will I need to pay an excess to use legal expenses cover?

It depends on your policy, so read the small print carefully. You can find home insurance policies that won’t charge an excess to use legal expenses cover.

I have legal expenses cover. How do I access legal advice?

Insurance providers that offer legal expenses cover will usually offer a helpline you can ring if you need legal advice. They should be able to assess your situation and recommend next steps. If it’s not clear from your policy documents, give your provider a call.

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