Motor legal protection – what is it and is it worth it?

Motor legal protection is a common add-on to car insurance policies, and is heavily promoted to those buying a new policy. Here we explain exactly what it is and whether you need it.

If you are currently researching and comparing car insurance policies, or have recently taken out a new policy, you will probably have noticed how keen car insurance companies are to get you to add something called motor legal protection to your policy.

As with all optional extras, motor legal protection comes with an added cost on top of your premium – and most of us are not sure whether we need it or not. Below we explain exactly what motor legal protection is, whether it’s worth it and if you actually need it.

What is motor legal protection?

Also sometimes referred to as legal expenses cover, motor legal protection covers you for any legal costs associated with a car accident that wasn’t your fault.

Motor legal protection is designed to help you reclaim any losses that are not covered by your standard insurance policy, which could include:

  • Personal injury to you or a passenger
  • Loss of earnings
  • Loss of possessions
  • Medical expenses

Basically, any expenses you might occur as a result of your accident that are classed as uninsured losses i.e. are not covered by your standard insurance policy, you can reclaim using your legal expenses cover.

Motor legal protection is an optional extra added on to car insurance policies, so it is not a legal requirement to have it. It is there as an extra level of cover to provide peace of mind that you are covered for all eventualities when you’re out on the road.

As with all forms of insurance, there are certain things that motor legal protection does not cover – such as:

  • Any compensation payments awarded to third party’s bringing a claim against you
  • Any fines imposed on you by a court for any criminal or motoring offences
  • Expenses incurred before a legal team taking on the case
  • Any costs incurred from claims made against you if you were drunk driving, under the influence of drugs, or if you lied or were violent in any way

How much does motor legal protection cost?

To decide whether motor legal protection is worth it, you need to determine whether you think you would benefit from the extra cover it provides – and whether you deem the cost to be worth the extra cover.

The average cost of motor legal protection tends to be around £20 – £30 for a year, depending on the insurance company.

Some car insurance companies will add motor legal protection onto their comprehensive policies at no extra cost, so make sure you check your policy documents to see if you’re already covered.

Do you need motor legal protection?

When deciding whether to buy or add motor legal protection to your car insurance policy, it is worth weighing up the advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages

As the cost of legal proceedings can be huge, having protection like legal expenses cover could work out to be very useful if you have to take legal action following a car accident. Most policies give you up to £100,000 worth of legal expenses cover, so you won’t have to worry about the costs when making a legal claim.

Most forms of motor legal protection come with the added benefit of providing a free legal helpline – which could prove to be a great source of free legal advice if you ever need it.

Disadvantages

Perhaps the main drawback to motor legal protection is that your claim is not guaranteed to be accepted.

For example, your ability to claim is dependent on it being clear that you were not at fault for the accident and your insurer fully expects the court to rule in your favour.

You may also find your claim is rejected if too much time has passed since the accident, or if the amount you want to claim is not deemed to be sufficient to warrant legal proceedings (e.g. you are claiming for £750 but the insurer expects the cost of issuing proceedings to be £1,000).

If you have decided that you need motor legal protection, the final step is to make sure you do not have legal expenses cover in another policy – for instance in a home insurance policy, or even as an employment benefit or a trade union membership benefit.

The Office of National Statisticestimateste that approximately 25 million households already have some form of legal expenses cover – so it is definitely worth looking into before deciding to pay for it.