Subrogation is a term that's understood in legal and insurance circles but rarely by the customers they represent. If this term has come up when dealing with your insurance agent or a legal proceeding, it would be in your benefit to know the steps of how it works. The more information you have about it, the more likely relevant proceedings will work out favorably.
An insurance policy you own is a commitment that, if something bad happens to you, the firm that covers the policy will make good in a timely manner. If you get injured while you're on the clock, your company's workers compensation picks up the tab for medical services. Employment lawyers handle the details; you just get fixed up.
But since determining who is financially responsible for services or repairs is usually a time-consuming affair – and delay often compounds the damage to the victim – insurance firms in many cases decide to pay up front and figure out the blame later. They then need a mechanism to recover the costs if, when there is time to look at all the facts, they weren't in charge of the expense.
Can You Give an Example?
Your bedroom catches fire and causes $10,000 in home damages. Fortunately, you have property insurance and it pays out your claim in full. However, the insurance investigator discovers that an electrician had installed some faulty wiring, and there is reason to believe that a judge would find him liable for the loss. You already have your money, but your insurance agency is out $10,000. What does the agency do next?
How Subrogation Works
This is where subrogation comes in. It is the way that an insurance company uses to claim payment when it pays out a claim that turned out not to be its responsibility. Some insurance firms have in-house property damage lawyers and personal injury attorneys, or a department dedicated to subrogation; others contract with a law firm. Under ordinary circumstances, only you can sue for damages to your self or property. But under subrogation law, your insurance company is extended some of your rights for having taken care of the damages. It can go after the money originally due to you, because it has covered the amount already.
Why Should I Care?
For one thing, if your insurance policy stipulated a deductible, your insurance company wasn't the only one that had to pay. In a $10,000 accident with a $1,000 deductible, you lost some money too – namely, $1,000. If your insurance company is lax about bringing subrogation cases to court, it might opt to recover its losses by increasing your premiums. On the other hand, if it has a knowledgeable legal team and pursues them enthusiastically, it is doing you a favor as well as itself. If all $10,000 is recovered, you will get your full thousand-dollar deductible back. If it recovers half (for instance, in a case where you are found one-half to blame), you'll typically get $500 back, based on the laws in most states.
In addition, if the total expense of an accident is more than your maximum coverage amount, you could be in for a stiff bill. If your insurance company or its property damage lawyers, such as lawyers in immigration Herriman UT, pursue subrogation and wins, it will recover your costs as well as its own.
All insurers are not created equal. When shopping around, it's worth looking at the reputations of competing firms to determine whether they pursue valid subrogation claims; if they do so quickly; if they keep their accountholders apprised as the case proceeds; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements right away so that you can get your losses back and move on with your life. If, on the other hand, an insurer has a record of paying out claims that aren't its responsibility and then protecting its profitability by raising your premiums, you'll feel the sting later.