You can have your day in court - all legal costs paid

Look out for the add-on in your insurance that might let you take compensation claims all the way

If you fall foul of a bad boss, an uninsured driver or unscrupulous landlord, "I'll see you in court" could turn out to be the emptiest threat you ever make.

Solicitors don't come cheap - £150 an hour in some cases - and many people prefer to steer clear of "no win, no fee" lawyers because of the charges they'll incur if they do win.

Legal costs can be prohibitive and they prevent consumers from pursuing genuine claims.

But next time you're in a scrape, check your insurance policy: you could find you're covered for these costs.

Increasingly sold as a cheap add-on to home, motor and travel policies, legal expenses cover could save you thousands of pounds if you become involved in disputes.

It generally costs £15 to £20 a year and provides £50,000 worth of protection - in other words, legal fees up to this sum. Some companies include it as part of the regular premium. For example, the AA offers £50,000 worth of legal cover on its comprehen-sive motor policies, and £25,000 on home and travel insurance.

In a nutshell, these policies reimburse your legal costs if you decide to pursue claims for compensation against individuals or companies. You could use it to seek redress from an uninsured driver for lost earnings, for example, if you were the innocent party in an accident that meant you couldn't drive for months and lost out on business.

You could also claim for taxi fares or other reasonable travel expenses while your vehicle was off the road being repaired, or for the cost of car rental.

To do so, the solicitor hired by your insurer liaises with the other party or their insurer to try to get the money. You would have to prove that the accident meant you could not work, and provide receipts and evidence of your earnings. Policyholders can also try to claim back any excess (typically £100 to £500) on their insurance.

The self-employed may find the cover useful if having their vehicle off the road means they lose out on income.

Budget Van Insurance offers legal protection for £2 a month; this covers customers to claim through the courts for loss of earnings if they are unable to work as a result of a road accident or simply need to get a replacement vehicle. So long as the third party involved in the accident can be traced, customers are given access to a team of legal specialists.

Legal expenses on a home insurance policy cover a broad set of circumstances. These include contract disputes with tradesmen who botch a job in your home; property or boundary disputes; and jury service if you're going to lose out on income while you're in court.

Note that employers treat jury service in different ways: some will continue to pay employees their full salary while others, often smaller companies, will pay only a certain amount.

Legal expenses cover can pay some, not all, of your wages if they cannot be reclaimed from your company or the court. The self-employed are reimbursed in full by the court as long as they can provide proof of average earnings and expenses incurred.

Although you may have the cover, you won't always be given access to legal representation. Whenever you make a claim under a policy of this type, most insurers will assess the dispute in-house and then determine if there is an arguable case.

So, for example, if you were sacked from work and had a case for unfair dismissal, you could claim on your policy and your insurer's solicitors would fight your corner at an employment tribunal - as long as they thought you had a good chance of winning.

Tereza Fritz of consumer body Which? says the insurance is very useful. She cites her own experience when a surveyor failed to spot dry rot in a house she was buying. Using her legal expenses cover, which had cost her £20 a year, she sued the surveyor for professional negligence, won £25,000 in compensation and had all her legal costs (another £25,000) paid.

"When people call Which? and ask if they should engage a solicitor for certain things, the first thing they're asked is whether they have legal expenses cover," she says. "A lot of people don't realise they have it."

If you use your insurance policy to win compensation through the courts, you get to keep all the money. In contrast to no-win, no-fee deals, your premium has already covered all the solicitors' fees and costs.

Some travel policies also include legal expenses cover. Prudential's travel insurance will pay up to £50,000 if a policyholder takes action to claim damages or compensation for an injury sustained during their trip.

However, watch out for exclusions. These include action against family members or travelling companions, and against tour operators or travel agents.

So you couldn't claim if you were injured in a car crash caused by your partner. You also need to report all claims within 180 days of the incident.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Life and Style
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Arts and Entertainment
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Trust Accountant - Kent

    NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

    Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

    Law Costs

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

    SQL Developer (Stored Procedures) - Hertfordshire/Middlesex

    £300 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer (Stored Procedures) Watford...

    Day In a Page

    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
    Witches: A history of misogyny

    Witches: A history of misogyny

    The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
    Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
    'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style