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Car insurance buyers' guide: Legal expenses cover

model car with pound coins spilling out So what is Legal Expenses Cover (LEC)?

Legal Expenses Cover generally covers drivers for those matters that aren't dealt with on motor insurance policies, including legal advice, costs and expenses to pursue such claims, or those arising from personal injury or death as a result of an accident while insured. Typical coverage would be the cost of legal fees up to £100,000 for reclaiming the uninsured losses.

These uninsured items would include:

  • the excess paid to the garage when a car is collected, or that was deducted from the settlement cheque;
  • compensation for any injuries suffered in the accident;
  • the costs of hiring a car (if necessary);
  • taxi fares or other reasonable travel expenses whilst the car was off the road being repaired;
  • the cost of additional phone calls made to the insurer;
  • compensation for the loss of use of the drivers car if a hire or replacement car was not used.

It is always wise to check the exact benefits and cover afforded by LEC to establish the extent of the service.

What does the Legal Expenses Unit do?

Once a driver has had a claim form they contact the other party, either directly or via their insurance company, and notify them that they intend to make a claim. Once they have all the details of the claim and the documents supporting the claim, they will send these to the other person's insurance company and try to reclaim these costs. If they don't think the claim will be successful or that it is not possible to claim for a certain item then they'll let the driver know as soon as possible, explain why and what other options are available.

How long does it take?

The length of time taken varies depending on what is being claimed for. For example, if a claim involves personal injury, then it will take longer than a claim that just involves reclaiming the excess. On average, a straightforward claim to recover excess should only take about 8 weeks. As the cheque comes from the other person's insurance company which may not be as quick to settle the claim, it is advisable to establish this in advance.

What happens if the insured is injured?

In this case the Legal Expenses Unit will appoint a solicitor to act for the injured driver. The solicitor will have expert knowledge of dealing with personal injury claims and they will pursue fair compensation.

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