A recent review by an expert working group Civil Justice Council, called an inquiry into the current and potential application of ‘Before-the-Event’ (BTE) insurance in the present legal landscape, the content of the insurance, the coverage intake of the various BTE policies available to consumers and businesses and any gaps in the market for which BTE cover is not available.
What is BTE insurance?
Many people have BTE legal expenses insurance, but don’t realise it. Usually, BTE insurance is often part of household, travel or motor insurance, or can be sold as an ’add-on’ optional benefit. The cover it provides protects a customer against some or all of the legal costs that may occur following an unforeseen event that may lead to a legal claim or dispute.
What does BTE insurance cover?
Coverage policies will differ depending on the requirements of the BTE insurer. In many cases, BTE insurance will cover a variety of legal expenses that will arise following a dispute. These expenses can include costs for solicitors, expert witnesses, court fees and any other legal costs.
Summary of the review
A number of interesting points were discussed by the working group in the review.
- The group had stated that there is a general lack of awareness of BTE insurance amongst consumers, so lawyers and The Law Society should have an important role to play in raising the awareness of BTE cover.
- The group was also not persuaded that BTE insurance should be mandatory for certain categories, for example, employers or drivers of vehicles.
- BTE insurance is relatively cheap but people tend to seek to reduce their insurance costs rather than pay for additional benefits and often do not expect any cover for future legal costs. Developments in the legal landscape elsewhere such as the extension of fixed fees may affect the attractiveness of BTE at present.
- There is controversy as at present the insurer may restrict the insured’s choice of solicitors to one of their panel solicitors, but Spratt Endicott have found that if instructed at an early date and seek the insurer’s consent, the insurer will often allow Spratt Endicott to act.
Ensuring that you have BTE insurance could save both time and money in the event of an unforeseen dispute. Our specialist team of dispute resolution lawyers can assist in reviewing your policies to identify if BTE insurance is an option that would work for your claim, or advise on alternative steps that you can take such as After-the-Event insurance.