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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
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

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living