Is Legal Expenses Insurance worth having?

Category: Personal Injury, Road Accident

Or do you feel like it’s you doing all the work?

How many of us take out or renew motor or household insurance and end up with Legal Expenses Insurance included?  Do you even know what the policy covers?

Let’s hope it never happens, but imagine you’ve just had an accident. You call your insurer to report the accident, within seconds of that call, you receive a phone call. It’s your insurer’s “panel solicitor” calling about the accident. They explain to you that you have legal expenses insurance attached to your motor policy. They then mention that if you use them, you’ll receive 100% of your compensation, with no deductions. That sounds great, doesn’t it? You don’t even have to call other solicitors to see if they would take your case.

If you have legal expenses insurance on your household policies, it can also cover you for slips in shops. And even for claims against local authorities.

Panel Solicitors

Your insurance company will usually encourage you to use one of their ‘panel solicitors’. They already have a working relationship them, and can get them to call you afterwards. That solicitor can be located anywhere in the country and is unlikely to be local to you.

What you probably don’t know though is that the person responsible for the day to day handling of your claim may have very little or even no legal experience or legal qualification in place. You may have been contacted by ‘XYZ Solicitors’ or ‘XYZ Legal Services’. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll ever even speak with a qualified solicitor or lawyer. In fact, the chances in most cases are that you won’t. Here at Nash & Co Solicitors, we’re different to this. The people working on your case are highly experienced and qualified lawyers. Our team and Head of the team are ranked in the top guides for law firms in the UK.

Increasingly, we are finding that clients are coming to us who have been in this exact situation. They ask us to take over their claim as they’re just not happy with the service that they’ve received. The typical complaints we hear include “they never call me back”, “they don’t seem to know what they are doing”, “they don’t seem to listen to me”, and of most concern, “they keep asking me to sign things I don’t agree with”.

It’s vital that your lawyer has your best interests at heart. They need to understand your claim, and importantly, know the law and what you should be claiming. Those are the absolute bear minimum you should expect, isn’t it?

Promises, promises…

A legal expenses insurance solicitor will promise you 100% of your compensation, which sounds great. But weigh it up for a minute. Receiving 100% of £1000 sounds great doesn’t it? But what happens if your claim is really worth £5,000, £10,000 or even more, and you’ve received the wrong advice?

There are many occasions where clients are expected to recover sick pay through their claims. This is done on behalf of employers or for a third party, such as a physiotherapy provider, e.g. BUPA.  These are known as ‘subrogated claims’ and are often overlooked by those working for panel solicitors with little experience.  Imagine settling your claim, but being asked by your employer to repay your sick pay which had not been included? You could end up having to pay out a lot of money, through no fault of your own.

Correct questions?

If you are not asked the correct questions at the outset of a claim, this can have a huge impact on the final outcome of a claim.  It can make the difference between a claim being worth £1,000 and an awful lot more!

As an example, one of our clients was involved in a road traffic accident. The airbags deployed, hitting her in her face with considerable force. The legal expenses insurance solicitors pursued the claim as straightforward ‘whiplash’. This, despite the client telling them that she now had problems with breathing. They had her examined by a GP when this was clearly not the correct type of expert to use. They even repeatedly sent her the same letter telling her to approve the medical evidence. But she didn’t agree with it. And she felt highly pressured to settle her claim for around £3,000. Now in anyone’s world, £3,000 is a lot of money. However…

When we took it over and had the client examined it transpired that she had suffered anosmia (a loss of taste and/or smell which can be partial or complete) as a result of the accident.  In terms of what this meant for the client, the claim went from being worth around £3,000 to £40,000.

What should you expect?

Thankfully, the majority of us will never experience being involved in an accident. But should it happen, you want someone representing you who cares about getting the right result for you. If they work for a ‘panel solicitor’ you’d automatically expect them to have the experience and qualifications that they need to represent you properly. You’d expect them to ask you the correct questions. To get the facts that they need in order to get you the result you deserve. Any experienced lawyer should spend time with you at the beginning of your claim gathering details and information. Particularly in relation to the injuries you have sustained. But also in relation to the financial losses you have or are likely to sustain.

Settle your claim quickly?

Most legal expenses insurance ‘panel solicitors’ will want to settle your claim as quickly as possible.  It’s highly likely that they will have you examined within a short while of your accident. You could still be going through a period of recovery but they will push for the examination.  So, what if you don’t recover in line with the prognosis given by the expert but your claim has already been settled? Once it’s been settled, that’s it, you can’t go back and ask for more money.  What if the accident affects your ability to work in the future? Where would you be if your ‘panel solicitor’ has recommended that you settle an undervalued claim after just a few weeks?

You do not have to use a panel solicitor and you can insist to your insurance company that you chose your own solicitor

The insurance company may advise you that they will only provide cover after the issue of legal proceedings and often, cover is limited and non panel solicitors will not want to act.  Nash & Co Solicitors can offer to deal with claims with the benefit of Conditional Fee Agreements, if your claim is suitable.  Yes, you have to make a contribution towards your legal fees. But this is done on a no-win-no-fee basis, so you wouldn’t have to pay anything up front. And we have qualified lawyers with years of experience who will work hard to achieve the best results for you. 

If your case is suitable, and we’re able to deal with it through a Conditional Fee Agreement, we promise that you will always receive 75% of your compensation.  Remember 100% of £1000 is great, as long as your claim is not worth £10,000. Then, 75% of £10,000 is much better!

What now?

Does any of this article sound familiar with what you’re going through? We’d love to talk to you about how we might be able to help. Give Marie Oxland from our Personal Injury team a call on 01752 827077 or email her at [email protected]. We’ll answer any questions that you might have and if you would like to meet us we can arrange this. We can use Skype, talk on the phone or arrange a face-to-face meeting if you prefer.