Changes to the legal aid system, announced by Kenneth Clarke last November, come into effect next month. Legal aid for civil cases will only be available to people in instances where life or liberty is in jeopardy.
Some experts think it would be advisable for families to take out insurance to cover legal fees to cover such eventualities as personal injury at work, medical negligence and other personal injury claims. Some of these could already be included in the optional legal fee extensions to regular household and motor insurance policies but a lot of people don’t take them up.
Kathryn Mortimer, who is head of legal services at the UK’s largest legal expenses insurer DAS, said that whilst they would like to see more legal fees insurance cover, it could be outside the price reach for many consumers. Extending a policy to cover instances such as medical negligence could push the premium to over £200.
Currently many households do not take optional extra cover for areas like medical negligence because many claims are rejected. At DAS, the personal injury solicitor appointed to a case must believe that the claim has more than a 50% chance of being successful before he will proceed.
In the light of the legal aid changes, Mortimer thinks that insurance companies may now start to offer more comprehensive cover that will includes a choice of stand-alone policies against risks.