Subrogation is a concept that's understood in legal and insurance circles but often not by the customers who employ them. Even if you've never heard the word before, it would be in your self-interest to understand the nuances of how it works. The more you know about it, the better decisions you can make about your insurance company.
Every insurance policy you own is a commitment that, if something bad happens to you, the insurer of the policy will make restitutions in a timely fashion. If your vehicle is hit, insurance adjusters (and the judicial system, when necessary) decide who was at fault and that person's insurance pays out.
But since figuring out who is financially accountable for services or repairs is often a tedious, lengthy affair a€" and time spent waiting often adds to the damage to the policyholder a€" insurance firms often opt to pay up front and assign blame after the fact. They then need a way to get back the costs if, ultimately, they weren't in charge of the payout.
Can You Give an Example?
Your stove catches fire and causes $10,000 in home damages. Happily, you have property insurance and it pays for the repairs. However, the insurance investigator finds out that an electrician had installed some faulty wiring, and there is a decent chance that a judge would find him accountable for the loss. The home has already been fixed up 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 payment 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 done to your self or property. But under subrogation law, your insurance company is given 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 Should I Care?
For starters, 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 have a stake in the outcome as well a€" namely, $1,000. If your insurance company is unconcerned with pursuing subrogation even when it is entitled, it might choose to get back its costs by ballooning your premiums. On the other hand, if it knows which cases it is owed and goes after 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 thousand-dollar deductible back. If it recovers half (for instance, in a case where you are found one-half accountable), you'll typically get half your deductible back, depending on your state laws.
Moreover, 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 divorce lawyer orem ut, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your expenses in addition to its own.
All insurance agencies are not created equal. When shopping around, it's worth looking at the records of competing agencies to find out whether they pursue winnable subrogation claims; if they do so with some expediency; if they keep their customers updated 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, instead, an insurance company has a record of honoring claims that aren't its responsibility and then covering its profitability by raising your premiums, you should keep looking.