Legal expenses insurers are facing increased costs and the possibility of paying for the defence of drink drivers and other reckless criminals as a result of proposed changes to the law.

Under government plans to cut £50m off the legal aid bill, dangerous drivers, drink drivers and motorists driving unlawfully will face means-testing to qualify for legal aid.

For those cases that do not get state grants, insurers are concerned they could be left to foot the bill.

Allianz Cornhill Legal Protection underwriting manager Peter Dobie said: "We do not want our policies used to defend deliberate, careless or reckless crimes.

"Insurance is about protecting against fortuitous events. It is a very fine line."

But insurers welcomed the increased focus on legal expenses as a result of the proposals.

DAS assistant general manager Tony Buss said: "This should create a greater need for our products. Increased costs under the change could force us to look at our pricing, but I don't see it having any immediate effect on premiums."