Has there ever been a time in your life when you thought you could use the advice of a solicitor, but were put off due to the expensive legal fees?
Perhaps you had a dispute with a neighbour or you felt that you were being discriminated at work? If you are anything like me, you probably did the mental maths to try to work out if the high cost of professional advice was worth it. To make matters worse, few of us actually know what getting help from a lawyer actually costs. I’ll give you a hint: it’s a lot.
The good news is that you might already have access to free legal services, and you have no idea.
Legal expenses insurance – also known as LEI or family legal protection – is designed to protect your rights and provide peace of mind. It’s a cheap way for people to speak softly but carry a big stick. Typically, each civil dispute qualifies for between £50,000 to £100,000 each- and all money is paid directly.
It often comes free with home insurance, but few of us know about it. But my goodness, this protection can come in handy.
FIND OUT IF YOU HAVE IT
If you’ve had a fire, been burgled or your roof’ fallen in, we all know that we should claim on our home insurance.
However, home insurance can be surprisingly versatile, and your policy may also come with some additional benefits that you may not have considered.
Although it is possible to buy “stand alone” legal expenses insurance, most policies are added to household buildings and contents policies as an optional (sometimes free) extra – if you pay for it, you are likely to be charged around £25 extra annually by brands such as Direct Line, Churchill and Aviva.
Have a look at your policy paperwork and look for the words “Family Legal Protection” or “Legal Expenses Insurance”.
WHAT IS COVERED
Despite being associated with home insurance, this cover will protect you for problems outside the home too.
For instance, it can help in the following situations:
- unfair dismissal, or discrimination at work
- injury from an accident that was not your fault
- disputes involving faulty goods or services
- employer disputes –such as allowing you to attend ante-natal appointments, issues with maternity leave and pay, declining flexible working requests, refusing time off to arrange care for your dependants/children, and equal pay issues
- problems with prospective employers – for example, if you have been discriminated against whilst applying for a new role
- investigations by HM Revenue and Customs if it resulted from your work as an employee
- if you must take part in jury service then a legal expenses insurance policy could cover your lost salary. This is particularly relevant if, like many women, you are self-employed.
- if your legal expenses insurance policy has clinical negligence cover then any surgery where something goes wrong (including negligence during child birth) could be covered
WHAT’S NOT COVERED
Legal expenses insurance does vary between providers, but there are some things that it doesn’t generally help with:
- issues that started before you bought the policy
- legal costs you pay for before your claim is accepted
- claims where the likelihood of success or ‘reasonable prospects of success’ are evaluated as being less than 51% likely to succeed
- anything specifically excluded – the policy documentation will set out what is and what is not covered
BUT WHAT ABOUT FAMILY DISPUTES?
But what about family problems such as custody battles, divorce or child maintenance you might ask? Ask any woman going through a divorce, the last thing they want is hefty legal bills – especially if she is fighting to get a far financial agreement with her ex.
The bad news is that the typical family law disputes are not covered by legal expenses insurance market.But, legal advice is available as part of most of the best legal expenses insurance policies, however, and is unrestricted..
And my advice is always: if you don’t ask, you won’t get. So you might as well put in a call, you never know, your family dispute could be covered.