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Take benefit of receiving Family Legal Protection included in our home insurance plus policy.

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      25.10.2008 22:56
      Very helpful



      Check your home insurance covers Legal Protection, and add it if not.

      I have been insured with Direct Line for Home Insurance for about 16 years now. I first took their insurance when I worked for them in Glasgow, back in 1992 and I qualified for a generous staff discount. Over the years I have periodically done a pricing check at renewal stage, but I have never really found a quote any cheaper, apart from one year when I defected to AA Insurance for a year, but then soon found I was better off at Direct Line the following year.

      I am not an individual who "over" insures, if that makes sense. I don't, for example believe there is a lot of benefit in paying for Accidental Damage, due to the high cost of this insurance, and the excesses involved. Likewise, I don't take insurance for electrical goods, or pets, (but then I have only had cats).

      I HAVE however, always had Family Legal Protection with Direct Line.

      When I worked for Direct Line all those years ago, FLP was £12 a year, or £1 a month...can you believe, perhaps in my arrogant twenties, I was never a top seller of this product, as I just couldn't get behind it, never felt I would need it, therefore why pay for it. A lot of my colleagues did make good bonuses from selling it, but I just didn't feel it was for everyone who needed home insurance, particularly as a basic contents policy could be bought for about £50 if you lived in a rural location and had a small sum insured.

      When I took my home insurance out with DL in late 1992, I thought I better add that £1 a month...just in case, and so I have been covered by it ever since.

      Home insurance policies are largely the same in terms of "insured perils" and I certainly do not intend to go into them all here. Direct Line were quite evolutionary in their approach to insurance in general, and home insurance was no different, and they took on lower risks by and large, and kept costs down by dealing direct and using the telephone - something that is quite quaint nearly 25 years later...!

      They did differ from the market in their approach to sums insured at the time, particularly with buildings and contents. A lot of policies offered "unlimited" sums insured and many people took comfort in those assurances. The fact is, the sum insured will never exceed what you actually own at the time - i.e. the rebuilding cost of the home, or the value of your contents. Direct line policies used to specify a rebuilding cost insured, which would come from the home survey or RICS estimation, or mortgage minimum, although they have lately yielded to the "unlimited" aspect, at least in the buildings part of the cover, the limit being the "rebuilding" cost of the home, which they know, even if the policyholder doesn't....!!!

      I have had the occasional claim over the years, the most notable being water damage about six years ago, when the whole lower floor of my house was damaged. I do like the approach taken by Direct Line, in resolving claims, we were assessed and were given specific stores to visit for replacement carpets etc (which were perfectly suitable) - but I think this helps to discourage fraudulent claims, as well as keeping costs down and hence future premiums down.

      On to Family Legal Protection...this kind of insurance is relatively cheap and essentially it covers you in the situation where you as a person need to take legal action against another e.g. an employment dispute, dispute with builder, property or inheritance dispute, personal injury etc. The cover includes a 24 hour legal helpline. I have used this on one or two occasions over the last 16 years over particular matters, just for guidance if I have ever required it.

      I found myself needing to call upon family legal protection in 2007 after a dispute with a local builder - Oglesby Building Services - based in East Bridgford, where I live.

      (The situation, put simply was as follows: in Dec 06 I invited the local builder, Oglesby, to my home to quote for several jobs, including the refitting of a small bathroom. We discussed design and tiles etc, and I asked how we would quote for tiles, given I hadn't picked any) He advised he would include a PC sum for tiling. Quote was received stating "supply and fit", so this fitted with our discussion about the costs being included. As the bathroom was very small, if the quote of £4.7K plus VAT did not include tiling, then the labour must have been over £3.2K!!) Builder then disputed the quote, saying it was an error, and we needed to pay, we withheld a sum equivalent to the reasonable cost of the tiles for the Sqm of the bathroom, and he sued us for that amount)

      Initially the helpline assisted with reviewing the quotes - which were revisited twice by the builder, and still he did not correct his "error". Eventually he took us to small claims court for the amount we had not paid, which was £600 plus VAT. This took an appalling amount of time to be resolved, but during this time FLP covered us for a lawyer who prepared papers for the court and worked behind the scenes to have the case thrown out, as the builder never replied on time to court requests. Family Legal Protection will only take a case on if there is a 51% chance that you will win - so it avoids wasting money on frivolous claims

      However, we eventually went to court, in Nottingham, in September 2008 and we were even covered by the cost of a barrister for the day. I noted the bill, was over £4K!! Simply put, had I not been insured by FLP then the likelihood was we would have had to represent ourselves, and given other pressures of the last 18 months the likelihood might have been that we caved in. Instead, we walked out of court having won the claim and our counter claim (that he had blocked our drains by flushing builder rubble down them, which we even took to court). One benefit, which isn't obvious, but having representation helps keep to the facts. The Plaintiff, Oglesby, represented himself, and his case was all over the place, even to a non lawyer like me, whereas we were focused on the facts of the case and the barrister helped us with that. (We had other issues with the builder, including the fact we were left without a functioning bathroom for over a week)

      I certainly have not missed £1 a month for the last 15 years or so, and I definitely recommend that you do add this additional option on to your home insurance if you have not already done so, as you never know when you might need to call upon it. Cover is for up to £100K, which seems a lot, but then I never expected my £5K bathroom to cost £4K in legal fees down the line.

      This isn't my normal kind of review, and is more narrative in style but I felt it was a story worth telling, as many people mistake the legal protection insurance with the liability cover in their home insurance and you may not be as well covered as you could be.

      (I tried to add a specific category to discuss one of the specific aspects of Home Insurance with Direct Line - that of Family Legal Protection. Dooyoo have added this as part of the wider home insurance policy and advised I should post my review here)


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