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Subrogation and How It Affects Your Insurance

Subrogation is an idea that's well-known among legal and insurance companies but rarely by the policyholders who employ them. Even if it sounds complicated, it is to your advantage to comprehend the nuances of how it works. The more knowledgeable you are, the better decisions you can make about your insurance policy.

Every insurance policy you have is a commitment that, if something bad happens to you, the company that covers the policy will make restitutions in one way or another 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 regularly a tedious, lengthy affair – and delay often compounds the damage to the victim – insurance companies in many cases decide to pay up front and assign blame later. They then need a mechanism to recoup the costs if, when all is said and done, they weren't responsible for the payout.

Let's Look at an Example

Your garage 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 liable for the damages. The home has already been repaired in the name of expediency, but your insurance firm is out all that money. What does the firm 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. Ordinarily, only you can sue for damages to your person or property. But under subrogation law, your insurance company is considered to have 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.

Why Does This Matter to Me?

For a start, if your insurance policy stipulated a deductible, your insurance company wasn't the only one that 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 insurer is timid on any subrogation case it might not win, it might opt to recoup its costs by increasing your premiums and call it a day. On the other hand, if it knows which cases it is owed and goes after those cases enthusiastically, it is doing you a favor as well as itself. If all is recovered, you will get your full deductible back. If it recovers half (for instance, in a case where you are found one-half responsible), you'll typically get $500 back, based on the laws in most states.

In addition, if the total price 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 personal injury lawyer Lithia Springs, GA, pursue subrogation and succeeds, it will recover your costs as well as its own.

All insurers are not created equal. When comparing, it's worth contrasting the reputations of competing firms to evaluate whether they pursue valid subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims without dragging their feet; if they keep their policyholders posted as the case goes on; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements quickly 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 protecting its profitability by raising your premiums, even attractive rates won't outweigh the eventual headache.

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