Legal expenses cover – can you choose your solicitor?

Woman on phone after road crash

A woman from Inverness was forced to be represented by a solicitor in Glasgow after she was injured in a road traffic accident.

As she had Legal Expenses Insurance (LEI) her insurance company choose which solicitor took on her injury claim. Mrs M had no input into which solicitor represented her.

What is Legal Expenses Insurance (LEI)?

An LEI policy is an agreement between you and your insurer, that when required (and in certain circumstances) solicitor costs will be paid. Most insurers have ‘panel’ solicitors. These are firms whom the insurers pass work to, and can require the solicitors to pay a fee.

An LEI policy however cannot be restricted to one solicitor whom your insurer picks. Yes, they can limit the hourly rate they will pay, and yes, this often means some solicitors cannot undertake your claim for that reduced rate; but you can still pick whom you wish.

Mrs M was not aware that she was entitled to pick a solicitor herself – she was not bound by this referral.

The solicitors chosen over 150 miles away

Being able to meet a solicitor in person was very important to Mrs M but the solicitors she was referred to had no Highland office which meant she was never able to meet with her solicitor in person. This was a concern for her especially when she felt that things were being missed and she was not being listened to.

“I felt it had been going on for so long and I was getting nowhere with them. It was horrible, they were not sympathetic at all. If I got in contact all they would do was put an email note on my file. I felt totally trapped and couldn’t see a way forward, I didn’t know what to do.”

Mrs M received an initial offer of around £8,000 which she felt was not a fair settlement considering that her injuries had caused her to be off work for a significant amount of time.

“I wasn’t taking a chance, I was seriously injured”

When Mrs M went to Digby Brown's Inverness office in person for help, everything changed.

“I was in so much pain I couldn’t think straight and I was worried I was going to lose my job, Digby Brown saved me from becoming mad.

“They made things so much easier and quicker. I felt like a big burden was taken off my shoulders. It was a relief speaking to a solicitor face to face and he said if I had any problems or questions just to give him a ring or come in and see him.”

Inverness solicitor secures five times the original offer

Within eight weeks, David McGowan, a specialist solicitor in personal injury law, was able to secure an offer of £40,000 – around five times the original offer.

“I couldn’t believe it, I still can’t today! David got everything moving so quickly.”

Our Inverness office are regularly meeting with clients who have been passed to solicitors through their LEI policy. These firms are rarely local to our clients and are usually based in the central belt, or even in some cases based in England.

We advise clients that they are not required to use the firm offered by their insurers and that they are entitled to select their solicitor themselves.

“I would recommend Digby Brown to everyone, especially when I know how much I was offered to start with. Knowing what David got for me and being able to speak to him in person, there’s no comparison.”