- 7 31, 2021
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Subrogation is an idea that's understood among insurance and legal companies but rarely by the people they represent. If this term has come up when dealing with your insurance agent or a legal proceeding, it would be in your self-interest to comprehend the steps of the process. The more knowledgeable you are about it, the better decisions you can make with regard to your insurance policy.
Every insurance policy you hold is a commitment that, if something bad happens to you, the company that insures the policy will make good without unreasonable delay. If your vehicle is in a fender-bender, insurance adjusters (and police, when necessary) determine who was at fault and that person's insurance pays out.
But since determining who is financially responsible for services or repairs is usually a confusing affair – and time spent waiting sometimes adds to the damage to the victim – insurance companies in many cases decide to pay up front and assign blame after the fact. They then need a method to regain the costs if, ultimately, they weren't responsible for the payout.
You are in an auto accident. Another car crashed into yours. Police are called, you exchange insurance details, and you go on your way. You have comprehensive insurance and file a repair claim. Later it's determined that the other driver was entirely at fault and her insurance should have paid for the repair of your vehicle. How does your company get its funds back?
How Subrogation Works
This is where subrogation comes in. It is the method that an insurance company uses to claim reimbursement after it has paid for something that should have been paid by some other entity. Some companies have in-house property damage lawyers and personal injury attorneys, or a department dedicated to subrogation; others contract with a law firm. Ordinarily, only you can sue for damages to your person or property. But under subrogation law, your insurer is considered to have 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 Does This Matter to Me?
For one thing, if your insurance policy stipulated a deductible, it wasn't just your insurer that 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 lax about bringing subrogation cases to court, it might choose to recover its expenses by ballooning your premiums. On the other hand, if it has a competent legal team and goes after them 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 50 percent culpable), you'll typically get $500 back, based on the laws in most states.
Additionally, 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 wrongful death lawyer Puyallup, Wa, pursue subrogation and wins, it will recover your losses as well as its own.
All insurance companies are not the same. When shopping around, it's worth contrasting the reputations of competing agencies to determine whether they pursue valid subrogation claims; if they do so without delay; if they keep their policyholders posted as the case proceeds; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements immediately so that you can get your funding back and move on with your life. If, on the other hand, an insurance company has a record of paying out claims that aren't its responsibility and then safeguarding its profitability by raising your premiums, you should keep looking.