Subrogation is an idea that's well-known among legal and insurance companies but sometimes not by the people they represent. Even if it sounds complicated, it is in your self-interest to comprehend the nuances of the process. The more knowledgeable you are about it, the more likely an insurance lawsuit will work out in your favor.
Any insurance policy you hold is a commitment that, if something bad happens to you, the firm that covers the policy will make restitutions in a timely manner. If you get hurt while working, your employer'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 regularly a confusing affair – and delay sometimes compounds the damage to the policyholder – insurance companies often decide to pay up front and assign blame later. They then need a method to recover the costs if, when all is said and done, they weren't actually responsible for the payout.
Can You Give an Example?
You head to the Instacare with a gouged finger. You give the receptionist your medical insurance card and he takes down your plan information. You get stitches and your insurance company is billed for the expenses. But on the following morning, when you get to your workplace – where the injury happened – your boss hands you workers compensation forms to turn in. Your employer's workers comp policy is in fact responsible for the invoice, not your medical insurance policy. It has a vested interest in getting that money back in some way.
How Does Subrogation Work?
This is where subrogation comes in. It is the method that an insurance company uses to claim payment 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. Under ordinary circumstances, only you can sue for damages done to your person or property. But under subrogation law, your insurance company is given 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 Does This Matter to Me?
For a start, 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 lax about bringing subrogation cases to court, it might choose to get back its losses by ballooning your premiums. On the other hand, if it knows which cases it is owed and pursues those cases aggressively, it is doing you a favor as well as itself. If all ten grand is recovered, you will get your full thousand-dollar deductible back. If it recovers half (for instance, in a case where you are found 50 percent culpable), you'll typically get half your deductible back, depending on the laws in your state.
Additionally, 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 criminal defense law Provo UT, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your costs in addition to its own.
All insurance companies are not the same. When shopping around, it's worth looking up the records of competing companies to evaluate whether they pursue valid subrogation claims; if they do so without dragging their feet; if they keep their accountholders informed as the case continues; 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 honoring claims that aren't its responsibility and then covering its profit margin by raising your premiums, you'll feel the sting later.