Subrogation is a concept that's well-known in insurance and legal circles but sometimes not by the people they represent. Even if it sounds complicated, it would be in your self-interest to know the nuances of how it works. The more knowledgeable you are about it, the more likely it is that relevant proceedings will work out favorably.
An insurance policy you hold is a promise that, if something bad occurs, the firm on the other end of the policy will make good without unreasonable delay. If your vehicle is hit, insurance adjusters (and the judicial system, when necessary) determine who was to blame and that person's insurance covers the damages.
But since ascertaining who is financially accountable for services or repairs is usually a confusing affair – and delay sometimes compounds the damage to the policyholder – insurance firms in many cases decide to pay up front and figure out the blame later. They then need a means to regain the costs if, when there is time to look at all the facts, they weren't actually responsible for the payout.
Can You Give an Example?
You rush into the hospital with a deeply cut finger. You hand the nurse your health insurance card and she takes down your plan details. You get taken care of and your insurance company is billed for the services. But on the following day, when you get to your place of employment – where the injury happened – you are given workers compensation forms to turn in. Your employer's workers comp policy is actually responsible for the hospital trip, not your health insurance policy. The latter has a right to recover its money somehow.
How Does Subrogation Work?
This is where subrogation comes in. It is the method that an insurance company uses to claim payment after it has paid for something that should have been paid by some other entity. Some companies have in-house property damage lawyers and personal injury attorneys, or a department dedicated to subrogation; others contract with a law firm. Normally, only you can sue for damages done to your self or property. But under subrogation law, your insurance company is considered to have some of your rights for making good on the damages. It can go after the money originally due to you, because it has covered the amount already.
How Does This Affect the Insured?
For one thing, if you have a deductible, it wasn't just your insurance company who had to pay. In a $10,000 accident with a $1,000 deductible, you lost some money too – to be precise, $1,000. If your insurance company is timid on any subrogation case it might not win, it might opt to recover its expenses by boosting your premiums and call it a day. On the other hand, if it knows which cases it is owed and pursues those cases efficiently, it is doing you a favor as well as itself. If all of the money 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 culpable), you'll typically get half your deductible back, depending on the laws in your state.
Moreover, if the total loss 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 auto accident lawyer Powder Springs, Ga, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your losses in addition to its own.
All insurance agencies are not created equal. When shopping around, it's worth measuring the reputations of competing agencies to find out whether they pursue valid subrogation claims; if they do so fast; if they keep their customers advised as the case proceeds; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements immediately so that you can get your money back and move on with your life. If, instead, an insurance agency has a reputation of honoring claims that aren't its responsibility and then protecting its bottom line by raising your premiums, you'll feel the sting later.
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