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When should BTE Insurance be considered for Funding Legal Claims?

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Before the Event Insurance – commonly shortened to “BTE”- is an insurance policy that is purchased by a business or individual that is designed to cover legal costs in the event of them needing to make a claim or should a claim be made against them. Whilst you can purchase BTE insurance as a ‘standalone’ policy, it is more commonly included with a range of business or personal insurance products. As with most types of insurance, the cover that a BTE policy provides can vary and is vital that the policy cover, and its limitations, are fully understood before buying a policy.

Why should I consider BTE insurance?

Legal expenses insurance such as BTE is available so that in the event you require legal advice, the legal expenses insurance will cover the cost of that advice. A solicitor or law firm should suggest to any clients that they review all insurance policies that they are aware of, to establish whether assistance with legal costs is available, and what criteria must be satisfied to benefit from it.

What does BTE cover?

BTE cover can vary, but most policies will cover:

• your opponent’s legal costs
• your solicitor’s fees and expenses;
• costs of an expert witness
• court fees i.e. the cost of issuing the claim at court

As always, make sure you read the policy wording to fully understand the extend of the policy cover.

What if I need to claim?

If you are facing a situation whereby you or your business is in a dispute with someone, the first steps to take include:

• seek legal advice; this is so that you may understand your position clearly in respect of the options that may be available to you (which could mean the avoidance of litigation altogether) as well as to discuss the various funding options that may be available to you – including BTE;
• contact your insurance provider to determine whether they will assist you by covering your legal fees

Can I choose my solicitor?

When speaking to your insurance company ahead of a claim, it’s important to understand that you allowed to appoint your own solicitor to handle your case. Although insurance providers have unfortunately become content with forcing policy holders who are seeking to use the benefit of the BTE cover, to use their “panel” solicitors, you have a right to appoint your own solicitors at the start of any legal claim.

Next steps when BTE is available

When the insurer has agreed the self-appointed solicitors, the solicitor and insurer will communicate between them to agree hourly rates. Although most law firms have their hourly rates set out clearly in their terms and conditions, it is part and parcel of any claim covered by insurance that a separate conversation will take place as to fees.The insurer will typically require your self-appointed solicitor to:

• confirm whether the matter has reasonable prospects of success (generally meaning 51% or more chance of winning).
• provide a detailed breakdown of the nature of the case;
• confirmation of the solicitors work required including the rate of those solicitors working on it.

They will use all of the above to confirm to the self-appointed solicitor their instruction to proceed and with what level of cover available to them. It should be noted that if any work falls outside of that agreed with the insurer and/or the matter that has been agreed as covered by the policy, this is a separate matter which you must consider and seek advice from your appointed solicitor on.

What if BTE is not available?

There are various funding options available to a client depending on the case that they are faced with. In the event that BTE is unavailable there are various other funding options available to potential parties to proceedings. Those include After The Event (“ATE”) insurance which is another form of legal expenses insurance for when you are in a dispute and you need to cover the costs of going to court, or litigation funding – which will depend on the satisfaction of particular criteria.

Commercial Litigation Funding

If you are thinking about taking legal action against another individual or company but are worried about the costs involved, Advantage Litigation Services have the skills and expertise to help you find a way of funding commercial litigation without risking your personal finances or those of your business. Click here to contact us today or call 0800 160 1298 to see how we can help.

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