Eastgate Assistance has beaten rival firms to secure a huge affinity contract providing before-the-event legal expenses insurance to Eagle Star's one million personal lines policyholders.

John Spillane, marketing director at Eastgate Assistance, refused to reveal exactly how much the deal was worth to Eastgate.

However, with standard legal expenses policies often costing in the region of £10 - £15 on the open market, it is clearly one of the biggest legal expenses affinity deals ever to have been arranged.

Spillane did admit that the value of the deal "runs well into seven figures".

Eagle Star is the company that deals with the direct policyholders of both Eagle Star Direct and Zurich Municipal.

Under the terms of the contract, Eastgate Assistance's Family Legal Protection and Motor Legal Protection policies have been added to Eagle Star's household and motor insurance policies.

It also means Eagle Star policyholders have access to Eastgate's 24-hour legal helpline in Colchester. There is an indemnity limit of £50,000 per claim with no limit on the number of claims a policyholder can make in a single year.

Also, where Eastgate agrees to take on the customer's case, it will pay the required fees regardless of the outcome of legal proceedings.

Unusually for Eastgate, the company is also the risk carrier for the deal.

Legal expenses cover for the household policy is called Personal Legal Assistance. It enables Eagle Star customers to claim for: pursuit of death or personal injury claims; pursuit of employment disputes; pursuit of property related disputes; pursuit of defence or consumer disputes; defence of a motoring prosecution; and dealing with tax investigations.

Legal expenses cover for the motor policy will provide professional costs for pursuit of death or personal injury and uninsured loss recovery.

For Eagle Star, the move is a further upgrade of its motor and household policies.

Last year the insurer struck a deal with roadside assistance company Green Flag to provide policyholders with free roadside assistance.

Spillane added: "Eastgate Assistance has worked with Eagle Star over the last ten years to provide its customers with a range of services.

Providing cover to one million household and motor insurance policyholders is a major deal for both Eastgate Assistance and the industry."

Philip Ost, marketing manager of Eagle Star, said: "We live in a more and more litigious society, so we are pleased to be offering this significant added benefit to our customers."