Do I need legal cover on car insurance?

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It can be tempting to skip legal protection, but it might come in handy

When shopping around for car insurance, legal cover can seem like an unnecessary added extra, especially since we know price is an important deciding factor for a lot of drivers. It can be tempting to remove any optional elements, like legal cover – or ‘Motor Legal Protection’, to give it its proper name.

But could this cost you in the long run? To help you figure out the best option for you we’ve put together this guide to explain what it is, how and when to use it, and your alternatives if you decide against it.

What can you use legal cover for?

Motor Legal Protection is there to cover the legal expenses involved with claiming compensation against someone else, when you’re involved in an accident that’s not your fault if you’ve a reasonable chance of winning your case.

That compensation you claim might be for any one of countless things, such as lost earnings (as a result of an injury) or the cost of taxis, trains or a hire car while yours is off the road awaiting repair. This is fairly standard across the board.

Beyond that, exactly what is covered will vary depending on your insurer. With Admiral, for instance, you can use Motor Legal Protection to:

  • Defend yourself against a motoring prosecution
  • Claim back uninsured losses, like personal possessions damaged or lost in an accident
  • Claim back your policy excess or £500 (whichever is the greater) if you’re hit by an uninsured driver
  • Resolve contract disputes relating to your car (such as your finance agreement, for instance).

It also provides 24/7 access to legal advice, whether this relates to a motoring-related legal issue or not. This can be helpful about whether or not you have a claim worth pursuing, because your potential payout could be less than you imagined.

What can’t you use legal cover for?

Motor Legal Protection is designed for use in motoring-related claims, so you can’t use it to cover legal expenses for anything that falls outside the motoring arena – like a boundary dispute with your neighbour, a personal injury claim after a trip or fall, or employment disputes.

What information do you need to make a legal claim?

If you’re hoping to make a claim against a third party, you will need all the usual details: name, address, the car’s registration number, insurer’s name and contact telephone number. If possible, get hold of their policy number too.

How much does it cost?

The cost varies from one insurer to another. A year’s Motor Legal Cover from Admiral costs £29.95.

How much legal cover should you have?

The amount of cover offered by each insurer will be different. With Admiral, you’re insured for up to £100,000 of solicitor (or other legal) fees.

The amount you need really is up to you, but the amount covered is a good indicator of the potential bill if you have to cover the cost privately.

What are the alternatives to legal cover?

Switch on the TV during the day, and it won’t take long to find an advert for solicitors offering ‘no win, no fee’ representation. This places all of the risk on the solicitor’s doorstep, meaning you won’t end up out of pocket if you decide to proceed with using their services.

The downfall of such an arrangement is laid out in the name: if you win, you’ll have to pay a fee. Since no solicitor wants to lose money, you may find they refuse to take on your case if they think you’re unlikely to win.

Alternatively, they might deduct a sizeable chunk of any award you’re given. And remember, even if you win, you might not receive a payout (if, for instance, you’re defending yourself against an accusation).

How to arrange legal cover

Some insurance policies provide legal cover as standard, but with Admiral it’s optional – just in case you really do decide you can live without it and want to save the cost.

You’ll be offered the cover automatically whenever you get a quotation, but if you decide against taking it out, you can add it at a later date. It is also possible to purchase a standalone policy independent of your motor insurance