Subrogation and How It Affects Your Insurance

Subrogation is a term that's understood in insurance and legal circles but sometimes not by the customers they represent. Even if it sounds complicated, it is in your benefit to comprehend the nuances of the process. The more knowledgeable you are, the more likely it is that an insurance lawsuit will work out favorably.

Every insurance policy you own is a commitment that, if something bad happens to you, the business on the other end of the policy will make restitutions in a timely manner. If your vehicle is in a fender-bender, insurance adjusters (and the courts, when necessary) decide who was to blame and that party's insurance covers the damages.

But since ascertaining who is financially accountable for services or repairs is sometimes a tedious, lengthy affair – and delay often adds to 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 recover the costs if, ultimately, they weren't responsible for the payout.

For Example

Your living room catches fire and causes $10,000 in house damages. Luckily, you have property insurance and it pays for the repairs. However, the insurance investigator discovers that an electrician had installed some faulty wiring, and there is reason to believe that a judge would find him to blame for the damages. The home has already been repaired in the name of expediency, but your insurance agency is out $10,000. What does the agency do next?

How Does Subrogation Work?

This is where subrogation comes in. It is the way 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 done to your person or property. But under subrogation law, your insurance company 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.

How Does This Affect Policyholders?

For starters, if you have a deductible, it wasn't just your insurance company that had to pay. In a $10,000 accident with a $1,000 deductible, you have a stake in the outcome as well – namely, $1,000. If your insurer is timid on any subrogation case it might not win, it might opt to recoup its costs by ballooning your premiums and call it a day. On the other hand, if it knows which cases it is owed and pursues them efficiently, it is acting both in its own interests and in yours. 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 50 percent accountable), you'll typically get half your deductible back, depending on the laws in your state.

Additionally, if the total expense of an accident is over your maximum coverage amount, you may have had to pay the difference, which can be extremely costly. If your insurance company or its property damage lawyers, such as car accident attorney Middle River MD, pursue subrogation and wins, it will recover your expenses in addition to its own.

All insurance agencies are not the same. When shopping around, it's worth looking up the reputations of competing firms to determine if they pursue valid subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims in a reasonable amount of time; if they keep their clients informed as the case continues; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements right away so that you can get your money back and move on with your life. If, on the other hand, an insurance agency has a record of honoring claims that aren't its responsibility and then safeguarding its income by raising your premiums, you should keep looking.

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