Legal expenses insurance should be an integral part of a client's insurance portfolio, according to 96% of brokers surveyed for Abbey Legal Protection.

The brokers said the perception of legal expenses insurance had changed with an increasing number of clients regarding it as a core product.

Legal expenses insurance tended only to be discussed when general policies were up for renewal, the survey found. But two-thirds of respondents said the product was looked at seriously now and no longer glossed over.

And clients were increasingly going back to their brokers to ask for legal expenses insurance, Leo Gibbons, business development manager at Abbey, said.

Smaller businesses in particular were concerned they would not be able to meet the costs involved in a legal claim – whether it was their fault or not.

Gibbons said: “Legal expenses is becoming a big issue to businesses and brokers are really beginning to see the potential it offers them.”

But he warned that brokers had still to appreciate the risk management aspect of legal expenses insurance and were failing to pass on necessary helpline information.

Gibbons said that the current market was very much biased towards before-the-event insurance, the driver for this being continual change in employment legislation.

He said there had been more than 35 major legislative changes in the last parliament and there are five consultations live at the moment.

“It is probably the biggest single area of change,” Gibbons said.

According to the survey, other issues high on the agenda included contract disputes and tax and VAT investigations.