Does Home Insurance Cover Legal Expenses?
Caeva O'Callaghan | April 4th, 2023
If you’re involved in a court dispute, you’ll accrue legal expenses – but will your home insurance cover them?
On a liability claim – public or employers’ – then yes, your legal costs and expenses will be covered by your home insurance.
However, if you’re having a dispute with a person or entity and incur legal costs and expenses as part of that dispute, these are not covered.
In this article, we’ll go over the following questions:
- What is liability insurance?
- Can I buy legal expenses cover?
- Do I need legal expenses insurance?
Whether or not your legal expenses will be paid depends on the type of claim you’re making, and who it involves. Read on to find out more.
What is liability insurance?
A standard home insurance policy should cover you for two kinds of liability:
- Owner’s Liability – provides cover if a visitor or their belongings come to harm and you are liable. E.g. this would cover you if a tile were to fall off your roof.
- Third-Party Liability – provides personal cover should you cause injury to another person through your negligence outside the home. E.g. if you hit someone with a golf ball.
When it comes to liability claims, all your legal expenses are covered as standard.
Having liability insurance is a legal minimum for most forms of insurance. It doesn’t protect you or your belongings, but it protects third parties in the event that damage is done and it’s your fault.
For example, if there’s a bad storm and your chimney is damaged, if it falls on a neighbour or their car they would be able to make a claim for compensation. Having a public liability police means that the compensation they receive will come out of your insurance, not your own pocket.
All standard home insurance policies also include employers’ liability cover, which is what will protect domestic workers such as gardeners and cleaners at your property. If it was proven that your negligence or maliciousness caused injury, then yes you would be liable.
Can I buy legal expenses cover?
Yes. If you are worried about legal expenses you might incur as a result of a dispute with someone else or a company, you might want to consider taking out legal expenses insurance.
Legal expenses cover will insure you for a wide range of complaints. These may include:
- Boundary disputes with a neighbour if you both claim the same portion of land, or if a tree falls over and damages someone’s property.
- Noise complaints, if you need the courts to help you deal with a noisy neighbour.
- Buying or selling a house, where legal disputes happen often.
- Loss of income in the event you get called for jury duty.
- Employment issues, for example if you need to hire a lawyer to fight an unfair dismissal or a case of discrimination at work.
- Medical negligence claims, where your insurer can help you get compensation if you’ve been a victim of malpractice.
Keep in mind, of course, that not all providers offer the same coverage. Always read your policy document carefully before you take out legal expenses cover, so you know exactly what’s included.
Do I need legal expenses insurance?
Maybe. Insuring yourself against serious legal expenses is a very good idea, and won’t cost you that much extra.
Without legal expenses cover, it might not be worth it to go to the courts, even if you’ve been treated unfairly by someone else. It’s well known that good lawyers can cost hundreds of pounds an hour, and having legal expenses cover solves that problem. You never know when you might need it.
Bear in mind, legal expenses insurance won’t cover you for some things, including:
- Any dispute that began before you took out insurance
- Any dispute involving your local council
- Anything involving your car – although you can get legal cover with your car insurance too
- Libel cases
- Matrimonial disputes and divorce
Finally, your insurer won’t pay for legal fees if they think you’re unlikely to win the case. For example, if your insurance company reckons your chances are below 51%, your claim is likely to be rejected.
Make sure that before you buy legal expenses cover, you haven’t already got coverage in place. Some providers include it as standard with home insurance, so give your policy document a quick look first.