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Subrogation is an idea that's well-known among insurance and legal professionals but sometimes not by the policyholders they represent. If this term has come up when dealing with your insurance agent or a legal proceeding, it is in your self-interest to understand an overview of the process. The more information you have about it, the more likely an insurance lawsuit will work out in your favor.
Every insurance policy you own is an assurance that, if something bad happens to you, the business on the other end of the policy will make restitutions in one way or another in a timely manner. If your house burns down, for instance, your property insurance steps in to remunerate you or facilitate the repairs, subject to state property damage laws.
But since determining who is financially responsible for services or repairs is often a time-consuming affair – and time spent waiting sometimes compounds the damage to the policyholder – insurance firms usually opt to pay up front and assign blame later. They then need a method to recoup the costs if, in the end, they weren't in charge of the payout.
Can You Give an Example?
Your garage catches fire and causes $10,000 in home damages. Fortunately, you have property insurance and it takes care of the repair expenses. However, in its investigation it finds out that an electrician had installed some faulty wiring, and there is a reasonable possibility that a judge would find him responsible for the loss. The home has already been repaired in the name of expediency, but your insurance agency is out all that money. What does the agency do next?
How Subrogation Works
This is where subrogation comes in. It is the process that an insurance company uses to claim reimbursement when it pays out a claim that turned out not to be its responsibility. Some companies have in-house property damage lawyers and personal injury attorneys, or a department dedicated to subrogation; others contract with a law firm. Ordinarily, only you can sue for damages done to your self or property. But under subrogation law, your insurance company is extended some of your rights in exchange 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 Does This Matter to Me?
For starters, 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 have a stake in the outcome as well – namely, $1,000. If your insurer is unconcerned with pursuing subrogation even when it is entitled, it might opt to get back its losses by ballooning your premiums. On the other hand, if it has a competent legal team and goes after them enthusiastically, it is doing you a favor as well as itself. If all is recovered, you will get your full $1,000 deductible back. If it recovers half (for instance, in a case where you are found 50 percent responsible), you'll typically get half your deductible back, depending on the laws in your state.
In addition, if the total cost of an accident is more than your maximum coverage amount, you may have had to pay the difference, which can be extremely costly. If your insurance company or its property damage lawyers, such as accident injury lawyers Powder Springs GA, pursue subrogation and wins, it will recover your losses in addition to its own.
All insurers are not created equal. When shopping around, it's worth weighing the records of competing firms to determine whether they pursue valid subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims without delay; if they keep their policyholders informed as the case proceeds; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements quickly so that you can get your losses back and move on with your life. If, instead, an insurance firm has a record of paying out claims that aren't its responsibility and then covering its bottom line by raising your premiums, even attractive rates won't outweigh the eventual headache.