Any homeowner, tenant or landlord knows already that home insurance is an absolute essential. Protecting not just the building and the surrounding land, but your contents as well makes sense – just think how much it would cost you to replace everything if a flood, fire, burglary or other disaster ruined your day. But part of your home insurance that you may often overlook is the ‘legal fees’ extra. Is it worth adding even more to your annual premium by ticking the legal fees box?
What is legal protection?
Legal protection or legal cover is usually available as an add-on to your home insurance policy, although some policies add it on at no extra cost. It’s there to help cover any legal costs you may incur for certain situations that can range from boundary disputes with neighbours, property damage or personal injury claims, or even employment tribunals or loss of earnings.
There is a maximum limit with most policies that ranges from around £50-£100,000. Anything above the set limit will have to be met out of your own pocket, so if you become embroiled in a lengthy dispute with your neighbour over damage to a property, for example, then your policy may only cover part of your initial legal fees.
What does it cover?
Legal fees can escalate rapidly, especially as most legal representatives charge by the hour, and that hourly rate can easily go into three figures. Legal fees cover helps to cover those costs for a range of legal proceedings to do with the home, employment, or personal injury. It can also help you reclaim losses that aren’t covered by your home insurance such as excesses. Some of the situations your home insurance legal fees policy may cover include:
- Compensation claims for injuries incurred on a property (either your own injury or if someone makes a claim against you after hurting themselves while on your property) and there is a dispute over responsibility
- Damage to property disputes with neighbours – if a tree from your garden falls into their property and damages a shed, for example
- Disputes with contractors including builders for damage to your property or if they allege that their property was damaged while they were on site
- Legal investigations or court proceedings where you need to defend yourself
- Legal defence for employment tribunals, loss of earnings due to jury duty, or defence during HMRC tax investigations
This shows that while legal fees may be part of your home insurance policy, they actually cover a very wide range of potential situations.
What doesn’t it cover?
However, there are certain things that your legal fees policy won’t cover, including:
- Matrimonial and divorce disputes
- Illegal activity or arrest
- Car disputes including road traffic accidents
You also cannot ‘grandfather’ a legal fees policy over to a pre-existing legal dispute that was already ongoing before you took out your home insurance policy.
Home insurance legal fees are not the same thing as liability cover, so remember that you are responsible for any damage or injury caused to a person or their property. What legal protection cover provides is reparation for the fees charged by your solicitor or the courts.
Is it worth the cost?
When you consider that legal protection is either included for free in many policies, or will cost you no more than around £30 a year, it seems like a pretty open and shut case to us. For around 57p/week you get peace of mind that if you do suddenly get hit with a big legal bill for that boundary dispute with your next-door neighbour, or if a workman damages their vehicle reversing into your driveway, you won’t have to find thousands of pounds to cover legal fees as well.
If you’re not sure whether your home insurance includes legal protection, our top tip is to get in touch with your insurance broker today. Check your policy to see what amount of cover you have, and if your home insurance policy is up for renewal then consider ticking that ‘Legal Protection’ box this time around.