Legal Expenses Insurance: Cover for Employment Disputes

Caragh Bailey
5 min read
Legal Expenses Insurance cover for Employment Disputes. Advice from Employment Law Friend

Do you have home insurance? Whether you have buildings or contents insurance, or both, your policy may well include legal expenses insurance. If this is the case, your insurers may foot the bill for your employment dispute. Legal expenses insurance won't cover the early stages of a dispute such as grievance procedure or disciplinary procedure, but they will cover the legal costs of going to employment tribunal. Different policies vary in terms of what they will provide, in this article we'll answer your most common questions.

What is legal protection?

Legal protection is insurance which covers your legal fees in a dispute, mainly being solicitors fees which can be very high. It is often available as an add on in home insurance policies and motor insurance, and some policies include it as standard.

You may have legal protection insurance and not even know about it.

Does insurance cover legal fees?

Legal expenses insurance, or family legal protection is included as standard in many home and motor insurance policies, however it is often available as an optional extra, so you will have to check with your insurers to see whether you have legal expenses insurance. Different types of insurance, and different insurers, include different things in their legal expenses insurance. For example your home insurance legal cover might include legal disputes with your neighbours over property boundaries or access, and your car insurance legal cover might include legal disputes with other motorists, if for example they fail to pay up after a road traffic accident.

Does home insurance cover employment disputes?

Most home insurance legal cover policies include disputes with your employer. Money from the policy could support you at employment tribunal. However, you'll need to have a reasonable chance of winning your case (usually over 50%) and the potential claim must be worth a substantial amount (often between 50 000 and 100 000 pounds). Employment disputes that are likely to be included in your policy are as follows:

You must notify your insurer as early as possible. Be aware that some legal expenses insurance policies have a 30 day limitation date from the day you became aware of a possible claim.

What does household legal expenses cover?

Policies will vary. Here are some examples of some of the other situations which may be covered by home insurance legal cover:
  • Seeking compensation for injury or property damage
  • If you are sued because someone is injured or killed at your home
  • A dispute with your neighbour over property damage
  • A dispute over the boundary lines of your property
  • Contractual disputes with builders, surveyors and other contractors
  • Consumer rights disputes including purchases which arrive at your home damaged
  • Defending yourself in a tax investigation
  • Employment disputes at tribunal
  • Medical negligence

Do I need legal expenses cover?

Legal expenses insurance is a relatively inexpensive addition to your home insurance policy. Which? provide a comparison of different insurers and their prices for legal expenses insurance, ranging from £24.49 to £31 per year. As we have seen above, it can cover a number of different legal scenarios which would become incredibly expensive otherwise. Legal expenses insurance will not include any disputes that have already occurred at the time you take out the insurance policy, so think about taking out a policy before you need it.

Frequently Asked Questions
This will depend on the individual home insurance policy. Always make sure you read the policy documents carefully and shop around for the best legal expenses insurance policy. Things to look out for:
  • Most insurers will only pay out if your case has a likely chance of winning. They will have a panel of solicitors who will help them decide if your case is a lost cause, in which case they won't pay out. Try and get examples of cases which have been approved and refused. Are they fair?
  • They will try to encourage you to use one of their select solicitors. If you want to choose your own they will have to charge within a certain limit per hour and must agree to the insurers' legal protection insurance policy terms. Is this limit reasonable? If you have a preferred solicitor, will your policy include them?
  • Most policies include a free legal advice helpline which may help you resolve the matter without having to start legal proceedings.
  • If you want to be protected in legal cases arising from road traffic accidents or motoring disputes, you will need to take out a separate motor insurance policy with legal protection cover.
  • Legal protection insurance doesn't include compensation, so if you are ordered to pay compensation, you will have to cover this payment yourself.
  • Costs that can be covered by legal aid wont be included, such as a criminal trial.
  • If your insurer handles your legal claim on your behalf, then you will be obligated to accept a 'reasonable' settlement agreement, if it's offered.
  • If new evidence comes to light, which makes it unlikely that you'll win your case, your funding might be dropped.
Ultimately it's important to consider the risk that even with legal expenses insurance you may face limitations on the legal services you can use, you may have your funding dropped half way through your case, you may find that you are obligated to accept a settlement agreement that you are not personally happy with, and, if you lose your case, you will be liable for paying any compensation ordered from you.
  • See if you can hire a solicitor on a No Win No Fee basis. If you lose your case you won't have to pay the solicitors fees.
  • Speak to your trade union representative, they may have funding for cases like yours.

Do you have an employment dispute that you would like to pursue to tribunal?
Whether you have legal expenses insurance or not, we can help. Contact us for a review of your case.

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This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of our company. For employment law advice please get in contact and speak to your employment law solicitors.
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