Subrogation is an idea that's understood among insurance and legal professionals but rarely by the people they represent. Even if it sounds complicated, it is to your advantage to know the steps of how it works. The more information you have about it, the better decisions you can make with regard to your insurance policy.
An insurance policy you have is a commitment that, if something bad occurs, the firm that insures the policy will make good in a timely manner. If your property suffers fire damage, your property insurance agrees to pay you or enable the repairs, subject to state property damage laws.
But since ascertaining who is financially accountable for services or repairs is sometimes a heavily involved affair – and delay in some cases adds to the damage to the policyholder – insurance companies usually opt to pay up front and assign blame afterward. They then need a mechanism to recover the costs if, once the situation is fully assessed, they weren't actually responsible for the payout.
Let's Look at an Example
Your living room catches fire and causes $10,000 in house damages. Fortunately, you have property insurance and it pays out your claim in full. However, in its investigation it discovers that an electrician had installed some faulty wiring, and there is a decent chance that a judge would find him responsible for the damages. You already have your money, 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 insurance firms have in-house property damage lawyers and personal injury attorneys, or a department dedicated to subrogation; others contract with a law firm. Usually, only you can sue for damages to your person or property. But under subrogation law, your insurer is given 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 Does This Matter to Me?
For starters, if your insurance policy stipulated a deductible, your insurer wasn't the only one who had to pay. In a $10,000 accident with a $1,000 deductible, you have a stake in the outcome as well – to be precise, $1,000. If your insurance company is timid on any subrogation case it might not win, it might choose to recoup its losses by increasing your premiums. On the other hand, if it has a proficient legal team and pursues those cases aggressively, it is acting both in its own interests and in yours. If all $10,000 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, based on the laws in most states.
Moreover, if the total price of an accident is more than your maximum coverage amount, you may have had to pay the difference. If your insurance company or its property damage lawyers, such as Family law Las Vegas NV, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your costs as well as its own.
All insurance companies are not created equal. When shopping around, it's worth looking at the reputations of competing companies to determine if they pursue legitimate subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims fast; if they keep their clients posted as the case continues; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements quickly so that you can get your deductible back and move on with your life. If, on the other hand, an insurance company has a reputation of honoring claims that aren't its responsibility and then protecting its profit margin by raising your premiums, even attractive rates won't outweigh the eventual headache.