You can add extras to your home insurance like legal cover, to protect you from situations that have nothing to do with your home, and much more to do with the courtroom.
What is legal cover?
Sometimes called home insurance legal protection, or family legal protection, it covers legal expenses if you need defence in a court case and help to cover the cost of solicitor's fees when you need legal advice.
Family legal cover may already be included in your home insurance policy or you can add it on from as little as £30. If you have to make a claim, most insurers will cover costs up to a certain amount – normally between £50,000 and £100,000 depending on your policy, though they'll usually only pay if your claim is likely to succeed.
What does it cover?
Although you can buy home insurance with legal cover, your issue doesn't have to be related to your home. It's important to check exactly what your policy covers as it will vary, but things that could be covered may include:
- Property disputes such as noisy neighbours, boundaries, trespassing and damage to your home.
- Consumer disputes which come from any goods you may have sold, bought or rented.
- Personal injury in case someone is injured on your property and wants to make a claim, you're usually covered for compensation cases.
- Employment disputes that involve a tribunal, these could be for things such as discrimination at work or unfair dismissal.
- Tax investigations or enquiries from HM Revenue and Customs that may involve the cost of an accountant.
What isn't covered?
Even if you have a legal protection in your home insurance it's worth checking what your policy excludes, as well as any limits on the amount of legal fees paid.
- Divorce cases are often excluded by these policies, as well as libel (slander) cases.
- Disputes that happened before the insurance are usually not covered, in which case you should look at taking out after the event insurance (ATE), often known as 'no-win, no-fee'.
- Compensation you're ordered to pay is not usually covered in legal protection insurance, even though you may be covered for legal fees and costs.
- Disputes that can be state funded, such as criminal trials for instance may not be covered, the Legal Aid Agency in England and Wales would be likely to cover these kinds of disputes instead.
If you're renting out your property to tenants as a landlord, using it for business, or have a holiday home, you may need different levels of cover such as public liability insurance or personal liability insurance.
Some home insurance policies will have some level of liability coverage already, so it's worth checking this if you think you need extra cover.
Some policies need you state whether anything has happened that could start legal proceedings, otherwise they may refuse to cover you. It's best to contact the Financial Ombudsman if you're unsure about your legal cover.
Lawyers' fees can be very expensive, so legal protection can be really helpful if you happen to find yourself in trouble. Visit the AA to find out more information on home insurance and legal protection, as well the different levels of cover we provide.