Subrogation is a concept that's understood in insurance and legal circles but sometimes not by the customers who employ them. Even if you've never heard the word before, it would be in your self-interest to know the nuances of the process. The more information you have, the better decisions you can make about your insurance company.
An insurance policy you hold is a promise that, if something bad happens to you, the firm that insures the policy will make good in a timely fashion. If a windstorm damages your property, for instance, your property insurance steps in to repay you or enable the repairs, subject to state property damage laws.
But since figuring out who is financially accountable for services or repairs is typically a time-consuming affair – and delay in some cases increases the damage to the victim – insurance companies in many cases opt to pay up front and figure out the blame after the fact. They then need a means to get back the costs if, ultimately, they weren't actually responsible for the payout.
Can You Give an Example?
You are in an auto accident. Another car ran into yours. The police show up to assess the situation, you exchange insurance information, 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 to blame and his insurance should have paid for the repair of your auto. How does your insurance company get its funds back?
How Does Subrogation Work?
This is where subrogation comes in. It is the method that an insurance company uses to claim reimbursement when it pays out a claim that turned out not to be its responsibility. 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 done to your self 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 Should I Care?
For a start, if you have a deductible, your insurer 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 insurance company is lax about bringing subrogation cases to court, it might choose to recoup its costs by raising your premiums. On the other hand, if it has a knowledgeable legal team and goes after them efficiently, it is acting both in its own interests and in yours. If all ten grand is recovered, you will get your full deductible back. If it recovers half (for instance, in a case where you are found 50 percent accountable), you'll typically get half your deductible back, based on the laws in most states.
Moreover, 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 auto accident injury attorney Middle River MD, pursue subrogation and wins, it will recover your losses as well as its own.
All insurers are not the same. When comparing, it's worth looking up the reputations of competing agencies to evaluate if they pursue winnable subrogation claims; if they do so fast; if they keep their customers informed 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 insurance firm has a reputation of honoring claims that aren't its responsibility and then safeguarding its profit margin by raising your premiums, you should keep looking.
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