The Motorist Uninsured Loss Recovery Association (Mulra) is warning this week that brokers either start selling before-the-event legal expenses insurance or lose it. There is a very real threat, they say, that the big insurers will start to massively promote before-the-event cover through their direct channels, and cut brokers out of their commission.

The whole legal expenses market is in limbo at the moment. Like the advent of any new commercial opportunity, everybody knows that there is a big pay day waiting but only a few intrepid companies have grabbed it yet. Claims Direct has made a fast buck by charging exorbitantly priced after-the-event insurance.

But their fast-expanding empire could crumble if consumers already have before-the-event cover. Of course, many people already have legal expenses insurance but just do not realise. There is an awful lot of cover sold on the back of home and motor cover. But the unwitting consumer takes his car to a garage first which then directs him to the first claims handling company it knows.

Mulra points out that brokers have a real opportunity here to prove their worth as financial advisers. They must start selling the very real benefits of before-the-event cover - cheaper and with more frills. There is a market for after-the-event legal expenses insurance but insurers know that in the long run it is better for them to have widespread before-the-event. Brokers should take note.