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

Legal expenses cover offers additional protection as part of your home insurance and can be a cost-effective way to get legal help if you need it. So what exactly is legal expenses cover? Why would you need it? And is it worth it?

Legal expenses cover offers additional protection as part of your home insurance and can be a cost-effective way to get legal help if you need it. So what exactly is legal expenses cover? Why would you need it? And is it worth it?

Chris King
Head of Home Insurance
4
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Posted 21 FEBRUARY 2020 Last Updated 1 APRIL 2022

What is legal expenses cover?

Legal expenses cover, also known as family legal protection or LEI, is typically additional cover that can be added to your home insurance. LEI covers the cost of legal advice and representation for disputes, incidents or claims made against you. For example:

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

Most home insurance providers offer LEI as an optional extra; however, depending on the provider and home insurance package you choose, you may find you’ve a certain amount of legal expenses cover included as standard.

Typically, the amount of legal cover offered is between £50,000 and £100,000, although some policies may have an upper limit of £25,000.

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, in almost all cases, your provider will only offer to act on your behalf if your claim stands a ‘reasonable chance of success’. That’s a likelihood of no less than 51%.

What’s included in home insurance legal expenses cover?

In addition to property-related legal assistance, home insurance LEI may also cover you for: 

  • 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 check the policy wording carefully before you buy.  

What’s not included in home insurance legal cover?

It’s important to read your policy in full, so you know exactly what the limits and exclusions are. Legal expenses cover varies among insurance providers, but the following situations are typically excluded:

  • 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?

If you want to add legal expenses cover to your home insurance policy, you can expect to pay an additional £25 to £35 a year. Quotes will vary according to the level of cover provided, so it’s worth shopping around for your policy.

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 members of the public are coming round, 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 per hour and rise to over £500 an hour for a more experienced solicitor in London, access to a dedicated legal helpline alone could make it worthwhile. Meanwhile, cuts in Legal Aid funding introduced in 2013 have made it much harder to access civil legal aid.

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.

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

What is 'after the event' insurance?

Legal expenses cover is often 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 instead 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?

Normally, you can’t 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?

Many insurance providers that offer legal expenses cover have a helpline you can ring if you need legal advice. They should be able to make an assessment of your situation and advise you of next steps. If it’s not clear from your policy documents, give your provider a call.

Compare home insurance

Get a quote in minutes and you could start saving

Get a quote
Get a quote in minutes and you could start saving Get a quote