Legal expenses insurance is ‘vital’ for access to justice, according to report 

People are currently “in the dark” about the benefits of legal expenses insurance (LEI) despite a new report finding it needed to play a “vital role” in maintaining access to justice for citizens.

That was according to Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO), who felt more needed to be done to promote the product.

It came as a report published by ACSO today (9 May 2023) revealed the UK had slipped from 13th to 20th in the World Justice Project’s ranking of countries with the most accessible and affordable civil justice systems.

The report added: ”In a perfect world, access to the justice system would be available to all, both in terms of cost and ease to use.

”Unfortunately, this does not reflect reality, with cost and understanding of the system both restricting access to the consumer.”

Maxwell Scott felt ”years of swingeing budget cuts and legislation has made life harder for [injured] people to seek redress”.

”When the Civil Liability Act became law in 2018, the government said that LEI would provide citizens with the safety net they needed to cover them for the cost of making a claim, yet it has done nothing to promote the product,” he added.

”People are in the dark about the benefits LEI brings, both to their individual rights and the civil justice as a whole.”

Fundamental protections

LEI is a type of insurance policy that covers legal costs in the event of a dispute or legal action.

Maxwell Scott said he wanted to see more LEI sold as a standalone product, with citizens supported by government awareness programmes to boost take up.

He told Insurance Times that the “government should put the message out there” so citizens can “get proper insurance for [themselves] and loved ones”.

“Motor insurance is obviously compulsory, but legal expense insurance isn’t,” he added.

“It’s a useful add-on to any expense that we just like to see more people use.”

He added that LEI provided ”fundamental protections to the average UK household”.

“During the pandemic, LEI providers saw increases in employment law enquiries, landlord and tenant issues, property and contract disputes,” he said.

“LEI policies also generally provide cover for the whole family, rather than individuals, and premiums are competitive, at an average [£xx] for an annual premium.”