There have been a few changes recently as a result of some court cases, where it has been determined that even though someone may have legal expenses insurance, the LEI providers cannot dictate that the policy holder must use one of their panel solicitors.
By and large, legal expenses insurance is a waste of money and allows the insurers to make more money. If you have an accident that is your fault, then that is what your insurance is for and will cover the third party costs. If it is not your fault, then you can get proper legal representation under a no win no fee agreement (Conditional Fee agreement is its proper name) and it does exactly what it says on the tin. If you win you keep 100% of your compensation, and your solicitor will claim their costs from the other side, if you lose, your solicitor will have taken out what is called After the Event Insurance (ATE) which protects you from any nasty costs but it means that your solicitor gets paid nothing other than the cost of the disbursements they had to pay to run your case
Much of the bad reputation gained by no win no fee agreements is due to many of the claims management firms acting as ambulance chasers, and then once they have got you on board sell your claim to one of their tame law firms who are desperate for the business but who in return pay quite a large referral fee, which from next year will be outlawed meaning that many of these claims management firms will go out of business.
Many claims firms do not carry out proper risk assessments, which also applies to many of the panel solicitors, but it also means that you end up being put on the conveyor belt and you become a number rather than an individual, and you will very rarely speak to the same person twice, and then it will usually be a paralegal or legal exec.
As mentioned one of the biggest scams is in respect of hire bikes. I have seen cases where the rider has severe injuries, is unlikely to ride for several months, but lo and behold, within 24 hours a hire bike arrives and the costs start mounting from day 1.
Most riders are not aware that they are signing a personal finance agreement, often because they are in pain or morphined up they think they are just signing to take delivery, and then when it comes to settle the case, the courts have recently accepted challenges by the third party that they should noot be required to pay several thousand pounds worth of hire bike charges when they clearly could not ride.
The courts have accepted this, struck several months of charges out of the schedule of costs, leaving the rider personally liable for the balance outstanding which then has to come out of his/her compensation.
That is a particularly bad and common scam.
However, if they had ascertained the severity of the injuries and proper injuries case manager appointed, then a suitable vehicle could be arranged which would result in no argument as it would be appropriate.
A proper law firm regulated by the Law Society under a no win no fee offers you far more protection as there is a comeback if they do not represent you properly, you can also change solicitors easily, unlike claims management firms who are by and large unregulated and you have no redress in the circumstances mentioned above.
And what is particularly worrying is that last year, ABS (Alternative Business Solutions) was introduced who are allowed to set up a legal practice and represent clients even though they probably have no qualifications or experience in the field, so for example these claims management firms, conveyancers, will writing firms can all set up providing it does not involve litigation, so for example you cannot have an ABS doing criminal law.
It is what has become known in the trade as Tesco Law as the like of Tesco are in the process of setting up their own legal practice, so you go shopping for your groceries and get legal advice at the same time.
On top of this, how many panel law firms actually understand the dynamics of riding a motorcycle or know the difference between a GSXR1000 or a Blade or as Gold Wing?
So the bottom line is that even if you have legal expenses insurance you can still choose the solicitor or law firm you want to represent you, and even if you have legal expenses insurance and the provider will not agree to you choosing your own solicitor, once they have made that statement, then the law firm can put you onto a CFA anyway as your solicitor will have done everything reasonable to justify why they have put you onto a no win no fee rather than using LEI (Hope that makes sense)
Anyway, hope this clarifies things a bit.