Subrogation is a concept that's understood among insurance and legal professionals but rarely by the people they represent. Even if you've never heard the word before, it is in your benefit to understand the nuances of the process. The more you know, the better decisions you can make about your insurance policy.
Every insurance policy you have is a promise that, if something bad occurs, the insurer of the policy will make good in one way or another in a timely manner. If a windstorm damages your house, your property insurance steps in to repay you or pay for the repairs, subject to state property damage laws.
But since ascertaining who is financially responsible for services or repairs is typically a tedious, lengthy affair – and delay often increases the damage to the policyholder – insurance firms usually decide to pay up front and assign blame later. They then need a means to get back the costs if, ultimately, they weren't responsible for the expense.
Can You Give an Example?
You are in a highway accident. Another car crashed into yours. Police are called, you exchange insurance information, and you go on your way. You have comprehensive insurance that pays for the repairs right away. Later it's determined that the other driver was entirely at fault and her insurance should have paid for the repair of your car. How does your insurance company get its funds back?
How Subrogation Works
This is where subrogation comes in. It is the way that an insurance company uses to claim reimbursement after it has paid for something that should have been paid by some other entity. 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. Normally, 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 that was originally due to you, because it has covered the amount already.
Why Do I Need to Know This?
For a start, if your insurance policy stipulated 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 the tune of $1,000. If your insurance company is lax about bringing subrogation cases to court, it might choose to get back its losses by boosting your premiums and call it a day. On the other hand, if it has a knowledgeable legal team and goes after them enthusiastically, it is doing you a favor as well as itself. If all ten grand is recovered, you will get your full $1,000 deductible back. If it recovers half (for instance, in a case where you are found one-half responsible), you'll typically get half your deductible back, depending on your state laws.
Moreover, if the total loss of an accident is over your maximum coverage amount, you could be in for a stiff bill. If your insurance company or its property damage lawyers, such as employment lawyer university place wa, pursue subrogation and wins, it will recover your costs in addition to its own.
All insurers are not the same. When shopping around, it's worth scrutinizing the records of competing agencies to find out if they pursue legitimate subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims with some expediency; if they keep their policyholders advised as the case goes on; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements immediately so that you can get your funding back and move on with your life. If, on the other hand, an insurer has a reputation of honoring claims that aren't its responsibility and then safeguarding its profitability by raising your premiums, even attractive rates won't outweigh the eventual headache.
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