Insurer claims to be first with rehab cover as it enters legal expenses market.

Fortis is to enter the legal expenses market, with the launch of a range of before-the-event (BTE) products.

The insurer will target small and medium sized brokers and is aiming to recruit around 240 agents to distribute the products this year.

The proposition, branded Fortis Legal Guard, can be purchased in conjunction with any insurer’s motor, household or commercial vehicle fleet products.

Adam Clarke, Fortis underwriting director, said the move was part of the insurer’s strategy of widening its product footprint. “It is a natural link to sell brokers’ legal expenses at the same time [as our other products],” said Clarke.

Graeme Mulcahy, business development executive at Fortis, said the company’s research had shown that brokers would be receptive to a new legal expenses product from a general insurer.

Fortis claimed Legal Guard, was a first for the legal expenses market in that it offered injured parties immediate access to rehabilitation. It also provides up to £100,000 in legal cover.

Chris Dobson, distribution and development director at Fortis said: “We believe our sheer breadth of cover will make Fortis Legal Guard a market leading product.

“Equally important, is the immediate access to rehabilitation offered by this product. From our experience, a large number of personal injuries sustained in motor accidents involve whiplash or soft tissue injuries. Currently, only a small percentage of people who suffer from these types of injuries receive physiotherapy treatment,” he added.

Legal Guard has been developed with legal expenses specialist B4 Group, which will handle the development and administration of the products. It will also provide a complete inbound claims service to policyholders and brokers.

John Palmer, group managing director of B4 Group, said that increased take-up by consumers of BTE legal expenses insurance would help to reduce the high costs for the insurance industry generated by accident management companies.

Where an injured party has BTE legal expenses cover then an after-the-event (ATE) legal expenses policy sold by an accident management company or solicitor is not required.

If an ATE policy is used and the claim is successful, the liable party’s insurers will pay the cost of the ATE policy. In contrast, a BTE premium is not recoverable from the liable third party insurer.

Research carried out by the Ministry of Justice found that just over half the UK population had some form of BTE cover and fewer than one in four consumers had heard of BTE or ATE insurance.