Much like home insurance, legal protection is the kind of thing you hope you never have to use. But it could home in handy if someone tried to take you to court over a boundary dispute or an injury on your property. You might find that legal expenses cover comes as standard with your home insurance. If it doesn’t, it’s common to find it as an extra you can add-on to your policy.
So what is home insurance legal cover and what can it offer you?
What is home insurance legal expenses cover?
Taking a case to court can be expensive. Legal expenses insurance – also known as family legal protection – could help you pay these legal fees.
This add-on commonly covers personal injury claims, employment disputes, disagreements about property and problems with the provision of goods and services. Some policies also cover more niche areas so it’s always worth checking what’s included.
You generally find if you buy legal expenses cover with your home insurance that it comes from a different company to your main insurer.
This reduces the chance of the main insurer having to take action against itself and so have a conflict of interest.
What's covered by home insurance legal expenses?
What’s covered depends on the insurer but you tend to see the same core areas in most policies.
Common events that most policies include:
Employment disputes such as unfair dismissal claims
Property and neighbour disputes like disagreements about shared driveways
Personal injury claims such as a fall on a slippery floor
Consumer disputes including shoddy work
Clinical negligence claims such as those for surgery that has gone wrong
Some legal expenses polices might also include things such as:
Identity theft cover for when someone opens accounts or buys products using your details
Jury service cover for lost earnings while you’re serving on a jury
Legal defence cover against claims arising from your work as an employee
Inheritance disputes about something left to you in a will
Appeals against non-admission to a school
Expenses related to an HMRC inquiry into your tax return
What is excluded?
An obvious exclusion for home insurance legal cover is things that happened before the policy had been taken out. And for some employment issues you also need to have had the cover in place for a certain time before you can claim.
Some policies also make clear that you aren't covered for things that you should have realised might happen.
As usual with insurance cover, you have to check the small print for the specifics. But generally speaking, you can expect exclusions on:
Family matters such as divorce and child custody cases
issues relating to planning law such as party wall disputes
Disputes about small amounts of money, for instance under £250
And for any disputes that are vehicle related you’re generally expected to rely on the legal expenses cover that’s offered with car insurance.
What is 'after the event' and 'before the event' insurance?
As the name suggests, after the event insurance is a policy you buy after something has happened. After the event insurance is usually tied in with no-win, no-fee cases to help with costs.
Legal expenses insurance, like insurance generally, is known as 'before the event' insurance as you get it in case something happens, not because it already has.
How much does legal cover on home insurance cost?
You can usually buy legal cover as an add-on to your home insurance. Costs may vary, but expect to pay up to £30 for a year’s policy.
Some policies may include this add-in at no extra cost. So when you're comparing home insurance policies, it's worth checking to see what's included as standard.
When you compare home insurance policies with Confused.com you have the option of adding legal cover to your quote. You'll be able to see how much the add-on costs for each policy.
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How much cover will it give me?
You're typically covered for up to £100,000 in legal costs. But some home insurance legal cover only funds up to £25,000 of legal costs.
As always, check the small print to make sure you’re happy with what you’re paying for.
Given that solicitor's fees tend to range between £126 and £512 per hour, it could be worth considering for extra peace of mind.
Is home insurance legal cover the same as liability cover?
No, liability cover and home insurance legal cover are different policies.
As mentioned, legal cover with your home insurance could help you take legal action in cases concerning:
- Personal injury
- Contracts for goods and services
Liability cover is there to help you if you’re held responsible for something that happened at your house.
Liability insurance covers things that happen to other people or their property like:
- Accidental injury or illness
- Accidental loss of or damage to property
Liability cover should come with your house insurance as standard.
It can be difficult getting your head around the different home insurance types and how they relate to each other.
So to help clear things up:
- Your buildings insurance provides cover for the house itself and any fixtures. This includes damage from fire, flood, storms and theft.
- Your contents insurance provides cover for your belongings that are inside the house.
So liability insurance could help you pay your neighbours for the dent in their car that was caused by a tile falling from your roof. Or pay damages to the visitor who hurt themselves when they tripped over the rug in your living room.
But if you suffer neighbour damage and your neighbours don't have liability cover, you may have to claim on your own home insurance. Liability cover generally comes as standard with home insurance and cover can be into the millions.
Do I need legal cover on home insurance?
Legal cover doesn’t add that much to the overall cost of home insurance and could provide up to £100,000 in legal costs.
But while it’s reassuring to know it’s there if you need it, it’s worth thinking about the pros and cons before taking it out.
One of the major drawbacks to home insurance legal cover is that your case is usually only be taken forward if there's a reasonable chance you’ll win. The Financial Ombudsman defines this as meaning that your chance of victory is 51% or higher.
You might have no say in choosing the lawyer for your case or be limited to ones charging below a certain hourly rate. And if you’re ordered to pay compensation to someone, this is not normally covered by home insurance legal cover, only the legal costs.
If you decide you’d like legal cover with your home insurance, it’s worth checking first that you don’t already have it or have access to it. You don’t want to end up with 2 versions of the same thing.
Some bank accounts offer as part of their package. And if you're a member of a union you might also have access to legal cover as standard.