Covered to sue if only you knew

INSURANCE to pick up the bill if you want to sue someone is now big business, but many policyholders do not even realise that they have this cover.

Revenue from legal expenses premiums rose by about 34 per cent during 1991, according to latest figures from the Association of British Insurers.

Many people, however, are thought to be unaware that they have legal expenses cover. Home contents insurance policies often give holders the right to use a 24-hour legal helpline, and some also include an element of legal expenses cover. But since this benefit is often hidden away in fine print, many policyholders will not be aware of it.

Insurers are increasingly likely to include a legal expenses portion in policies covering travel, motoring and property. 'It makes people feel warm and cuddly towards the insurance companies,' said a spokesman for one of the legal expenses insurers.

While add-on legal expenses policies are on the increase, however, stand-alone policies for members of the public are not widely available. Only Legal Protection Group and the Royal Insurance subsidiary CareAssist sell them directly. Both sell general family cover policies for an annual premium of pounds 150.

Instead of selling directly to the public, the legal expenses insurers are trying to persuade employers and trade associations to take out group schemes.