Subrogation is an idea that's understood among legal and insurance companies but often not by the policyholders they represent. If this term has come up when dealing with your insurance agent or a legal proceeding, it is in your benefit to know an overview of how it works. 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 have is an assurance that, if something bad happens to you, the company that covers the policy will make good in a timely manner. If a blizzard damages your house, for instance, your property insurance agrees to compensate you or enable the repairs, subject to state property damage laws.
But since ascertaining who is financially responsible for services or repairs is regularly a confusing affair – and delay sometimes increases the damage to the policyholder – insurance companies often decide to pay up front and assign blame after the fact. They then need a mechanism to recover the costs if, in the end, they weren't actually responsible for the expense.
Let's Look at an Example
Your bedroom catches fire and causes $10,000 in home damages. Happily, you have property insurance and it pays out your claim in full. However, the assessor assigned to your case finds out that an electrician had installed some faulty wiring, and there is reason to believe that a judge would find him liable for the loss. You already have your money, but your insurance company is out all that money. What does the company 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. Usually, only you can sue for damages done to your self or property. But under subrogation law, your insurer is extended some of your rights for making good on the damages. It can go after the money originally due to you, because it has covered the amount already.
How Does This Affect Individuals?
For one thing, if your insurance policy stipulated a deductible, your insurer wasn't the only one 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 unconcerned with pursuing subrogation even when it is entitled, it might choose to recover its losses by increasing your premiums and call it a day. On the other hand, if it knows which cases it is owed and pursues them enthusiastically, it is doing you a favor as well as itself. If all of the money is recovered, you will get your full $1,000 deductible back. If it recovers half (for instance, in a case where you are found one-half to blame), you'll typically get half your deductible back, depending on your state laws.
Furthermore, if the total expense of an accident is over your maximum coverage amount, you could be in for a stiff bill. If your insurance company or its property damage lawyers, such as estate planning lawyer Racine WI, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your losses as well as its own.
All insurers are not created equal. When comparing, it's worth contrasting the records of competing firms to determine if they pursue valid subrogation claims; if they do so quickly; if they keep their accountholders informed as the case proceeds; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements right away so that you can get your funding back and move on with your life. If, instead, an insurance company has a reputation of honoring claims that aren't its responsibility and then protecting its income by raising your premiums, you'll feel the sting later.