Andrew contacted us when his insurer wouldn’t cover his claim as they said he needed to prove reasonable prospects of success.
Andrew made a claim on a motor insurance policy for legal cover. He was defending a charge of causing death by careless driving.
His insurer didn't provide cover because they said they weren't satisfied of reasonable prospects of Andrew succeeding. They said there wasn’t enough information to assess the prospects, and Andrew had refused to provide a statement about the accident.
After reconsidering, the insurer asked its solicitors to assess the prospects of success. They said they would meet the costs if their advisers said there were prospects of defending the charge.
The insurer agreed to pay some limited costs for one hearing, as a gesture of goodwill, but didn’t agree to fund any further legal costs to defend the charge. At the trial, the jury found Andrew innocent of the charge.
Andrew complained about the insurer’s decision. He said his solicitor did some of the work for free because he knew he needed help. By the time of the trial, he had paid £7,000 in legal costs. This had come from borrowing from his family.
He said that the stress of the case meant he considered pleading guilty, although he was innocent, because he couldn’t afford to defend the case. Andrew confirmed that the court awarded his legal costs. He didn’t have to pay interest on the money he borrowed because it came from family members.
What we said
When we looked into the policy terms, they didn’t say that Andrew needed to show that there were reasonable prospects of success for his claim. This was different to what the insurer was saying. We felt that the insurer should have agreed to cover the case two years earlier when Andrew first reported it. They should also have agreed to Andrew's choice of solicitor.
We decided that Andrew should be awarded £2,500 compensation. This was for the profound distress that Andrew went through because of how his insurers handled the claim.
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