Subrogation is a concept that's understood among legal and insurance professionals but rarely by the people who hire them. Even if it sounds complicated, it is in your self-interest to know the nuances of how it works. The more knowledgeable you are, the more likely it is that relevant proceedings will work out favorably.
Every insurance policy you have is a promise that, if something bad occurs, the insurer of the policy will make restitutions in one way or another in a timely fashion. If a hailstorm damages your house, your property insurance steps in to remunerate you or facilitate the repairs, subject to state property damage laws.
But since figuring out who is financially responsible for services or repairs is typically a time-consuming affair – and time spent waiting in some cases adds to the damage to the policyholder – insurance companies usually decide to pay up front and figure out the blame later. They then need a mechanism to recoup the costs if, when all the facts are laid out, they weren't actually responsible for the payout.
You are in a car accident. Another car ran into yours. The police show up to assess the situation, you exchange insurance information, and you go on your way. You have comprehensive insurance and file a repair claim. Later it's determined that the other driver was at fault and her insurance should have paid for the repair of your auto. How does your company get its money back?
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. 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 in exchange 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 Should I Care?
For one thing, if your insurance policy stipulated a deductible, your insurance company wasn't the only one 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 timid on any subrogation case it might not win, it might opt to get back its costs by boosting your premiums. On the other hand, if it has a proficient legal team and pursues them efficiently, it is doing you a favor as well as itself. If all $10,000 is recovered, you will get your full deductible back. If it recovers half (for instance, in a case where you are found one-half to blame), you'll typically get half your deductible back, based on the laws in most states.
Furthermore, if the total loss 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 personal injury law morgan hill ca, pursue subrogation and succeeds, it will recover your costs in addition to its own.
All insurance agencies are not created equal. When shopping around, it's worth weighing the reputations of competing firms to evaluate whether they pursue legitimate subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims fast; if they keep their policyholders posted as the case continues; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements right away 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, you should keep looking.