Subrogation is a concept that's well-known in insurance and legal circles but rarely by the customers who hire them. Even if it sounds complicated, it would be in your self-interest to comprehend the nuances of the process. The more knowledgeable you are about it, the more likely it is that an insurance lawsuit will work out in your favor.
An insurance policy you own is a promise that, if something bad happens to you, the company that insures the policy will make good in a timely fashion. If your vehicle is in a fender-bender, insurance adjusters (and the judicial system, when necessary) decide who was to blame and that party's insurance covers the damages.
But since determining who is financially accountable for services or repairs is usually a confusing affair – and delay sometimes increases the damage to the policyholder – insurance firms often decide to pay up front and figure out the blame later. They then need a method to get back the costs if, in the end, they weren't in charge of the expense.
Can You Give an Example?
You rush into the emergency room with a deeply cut finger. You give the receptionist your medical insurance card and he takes down your coverage information. You get taken care of and your insurance company gets an invoice for the tab. But the next morning, when you clock in at work – where the accident occurred – you are given workers compensation forms to fill out. Your workers comp policy is actually responsible for the expenses, not your medical insurance policy. The latter has a right to recover its costs somehow.
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 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 person or property. But under subrogation law, your insurance company is extended some of your rights in exchange for making good on the damages. It can go after the money that was originally due to you, because it has covered the amount already.
How Does This Affect the Insured?
For starters, if your insurance policy stipulated a deductible, it wasn't just your insurance company that had to pay. In a $10,000 accident with a $1,000 deductible, you lost some money too – namely, $1,000. If your insurer is unconcerned with pursuing subrogation even when it is entitled, it might opt to get back its losses by boosting 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 ten grand 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 at fault), you'll typically get $500 back, depending on your state laws.
In addition, if the total loss 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 discrimination lawyer federal way wa, pursue subrogation and wins, it will recover your costs as well as its own.
All insurers are not created equal. When comparing, it's worth looking up the records of competing companies to determine if they pursue winnable subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims fast; if they keep their clients informed 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 insurer has a reputation of paying out claims that aren't its responsibility and then covering its income by raising your premiums, you should keep looking.