What is Legal Expense Insurance?
Put simply, legal expenses insurance provides cover for the costs of your legal action. If you choose to appoint a solicitor to represent you in making your claim, you will incur legal expenses when that solicitor completes work on your behalf.
Should your claim be unsuccessful, you will usually be required to pay not only the legal expenses related to your own claim, but also the expenses incurred by the other side.
While some firms, as we do, now offer their services on a No Win No Fee basis for personal injury claims, paying the costs racked up by the other side can be extremely expensive, and taking out legal expenses insurance can avoid you being faced with this on top of the disappointment of losing your case.
Legal expenses insurance is usually referred to as either BTE (Before The Event) or ATE (After The Event) insurance, depending on when you took out the policy.
What is BTE insurance?
BTE, or Before The Event, insurance is, as the name suggests, an insurance policy taken out before the incident which gave rise to your claim. Many business insurance policies, and some home insurance policies, have legal expenses insurance either built into them, or offered as an optional extra. Although each policy is different, these types of policy usually provide that, in the event that you are involved in legal proceedings, they will cover your legal fees; the cost of experts to act as witnesses; court fees; and the legal costs of the other side, should they become payable.
If you think that you may already have a legal expenses insurance policy, whether as a stand-alone product, or as part of another policy you already hold, please contact us to discuss the nature and scope of that policy. If your BTE policy does cover your claim, we have a huge amount of experience working with insurance companies to ensure that the process is as smooth as possible for you.
It is likely that your insurer will take an interest in who you have appointed as your legal representative. Most insurers have a set of “panel” solicitors which they have worked with previously and which they would prefer you to use. Your insurer is entitled to request that you use one of their panel firms, but your insurer is not entitled to insist that you are represented by them: it has been confirmed by the courts that the insured person must be free to choose their own lawyer. Please speak to your dedicated solicitor if you would like to discuss this further.
Do I need ATE insurance?
An insurance policy to cover you if you lose your case and are presented with a bill for the costs of the other side in the claim is an important, and often vital, element in starting your claim. Most people are not in the position to pay out what can amount of thousands of pounds in legal expenses and, even if you are confident in your case, the success of a court case can never be guaranteed. Due to the unpredictable nature of the court process, we would always advise that you ensure that you do have legal expenses insurance before starting your claim. If you do not have an existing BTE insurance policy, you should take out an ATE insurance policy before the claim begins. We are happy to advise you on the most appropriate policy given your circumstances.
How does ATE insurance work?
ATE insurance is usually purchased after the accident has taken place, but before significant legal costs have been incurred by the other side. For this reason, most people take out this insurance as part of opening their claim with their solicitor. Our dedicated personal injury solicitors have a huge amount of experience in providing advice on the most appropriate policy for your circumstances. It is important to take out an insurance policy as soon as possible because any costs which are incurred before the date the policy starts will most likely not be covered under the terms of the policy.
ATE insurance is usually organised by your solicitor, and we are very happy to arrange everything on your behalf. We will collect a range of quotes from different insurers and will provide expert advice to enable you to make the best choice. If your claim is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay for the policy at all; if your claim in successful, the premium for the policy will be taken from the total amount of compensation you receive.
Is ATE insurance worth it?
Under the terms of our No Win No Fee agreement, you will not be charged anything up front for any ATE insurance which we organise on your behalf. If your claim is unsuccessful, the premium paid for the policy is covered under the terms of the No Win No Fee agreement, and, therefore, you will not be required to pay. Moreover, the ATE insurance will cover the payment of any legal costs you are ordered to pay to the other side under the terms of the court’s decision. In these circumstances, your ATE insurance policy will have cost you nothing, and it will have saved you possibly thousands of pounds.
On the other hand, should you claim be successful, the cost of the policy premium will be part of the legal costs which you will need to pay to your solicitor. The cost of ATE insurance cannot be covered by the other side, even if the court orders that your opponent pays your legal fees, so this amount will be deducted from the total amount of compensation that you receive. Each case is different, of course, but it is likely that this cost will represent a very small percentage of the total amount awarded to you (as a very rough guide, ATE insurance policy premiums can range from around £100 to £450).
Given the low cost and potentially huge savings, we recommend taking out ATE insurance if your legal expenses are not already covered under an existing policy.
Contact us today
The experienced team at PSR solicitors can help you with your personal injury compensation claim.
With offices in Wrexham, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Shotton (Deeside) and Ellesmere Port, PSR are a leading practice of Personal Injury Solicitors in Wales and Injury Solicitors in Cheshire. We regularly act for clients on eye injury claims across North Wales, Cheshire, Liverpool and Merseyside. As a recognised injury claims specialist we can support your needs wherever you live in Wales, England & Northern Ireland.
We will contact you within one hour of your initial enquiry, or during the next working day if you contact us out of office hours.
For confidential, professional legal advice contact us today by completing the enquiry form, or call our freephone number.
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