Subrogation is an idea that's understood among legal and insurance professionals but rarely by the customers who hire them. Rather than leave it to the professionals, it would be in your benefit to know the steps of how it works. The more knowledgeable you are, the better decisions you can make with regard to your insurance policy.
Any insurance policy you hold is a promise that, if something bad happens to you, the insurer of the policy will make restitutions in a timely manner. If you get an injury at work, your company's workers compensation pays out for medical services. Employment lawyers handle the details; you just get fixed up.
But since ascertaining who is financially responsible for services or repairs is regularly a time-consuming affair – and delay often adds to the damage to the victim – insurance firms in many cases decide to pay up front and figure out the blame later. They then need a path to regain the costs if, once the situation is fully assessed, they weren't responsible for the payout.
You are in a vehicle accident. Another car ran into yours. Police are called, you exchange insurance details, and you go on your way. You have comprehensive insurance that pays for the repairs right away. Later police tell the insurance companies that the other driver was entirely at fault and his insurance policy should have paid for the repair of your vehicle. How does your insurance company get its funds back?
How Subrogation Works
This is where subrogation comes in. It is the process that an insurance company uses to claim payment 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. Usually, only you can sue for damages done to your person 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 originally due to you, because it has covered the amount already.
Why Do I Need to Know This?
For one thing, 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 have a stake in the outcome as well – to be precise, $1,000. If your insurer is lax about bringing subrogation cases to court, it might opt to recoup its losses by increasing your premiums. On the other hand, if it has a proficient legal team and goes after them efficiently, it is doing you a favor as well as itself. If all 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 accountable), you'll typically get $500 back, depending on your state laws.
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 firm Provo UT, pursue subrogation and succeeds, it will recover your losses in addition to its own.
All insurance agencies are not the same. When shopping around, it's worth weighing the reputations of competing companies to evaluate if they pursue valid subrogation claims; if they do so without delay; if they keep their accountholders posted as the case continues; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements immediately so that you can get your losses back and move on with your life. If, on the other hand, an insurer has a reputation of paying out claims that aren't its responsibility and then safeguarding its profitability by raising your premiums, you'll feel the sting later.