Subrogation is an idea that's understood in legal and insurance circles but sometimes not by the customers they represent. Even if it sounds complicated, it would be in your self-interest to know the steps of how it works. The more you know about it, the better decisions you can make with regard to your insurance company.
Every insurance policy you have is an assurance that, if something bad happens to you, the business that insures the policy will make good without unreasonable delay. If a blizzard damages your property, for instance, your property insurance steps in to remunerate you or enable the repairs, subject to state property damage laws.
But since ascertaining who is financially responsible for services or repairs is typically a time-consuming affair – and delay often adds to the damage to the victim – insurance firms often opt to pay up front and figure out the blame after the fact. They then need a mechanism to regain the costs if, when there is time to look at all the facts, they weren't actually responsible for the expense.
Let's Look at an Example
Your stove catches fire and causes $10,000 in house damages. Fortunately, 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 to blame for the loss. You already have your money, 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 method that an insurance company uses to claim payment 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. Usually, 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 Does This Matter to Me?
For starters, 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 lost some money too – to be precise, $1,000. If your insurance company is timid on any subrogation case it might not win, it might opt to get back its expenses by raising your premiums and call it a day. On the other hand, if it knows which cases it is owed and pursues those cases aggressively, it is doing you a favor as well as itself. If all of the money is recovered, you will get your full thousand-dollar deductible back. If it recovers half (for instance, in a case where you are found 50 percent to blame), you'll typically get half your deductible back, based on the laws in most states.
Additionally, if the total loss of an accident is more than your maximum coverage amount, you may have had to pay the difference. If your insurance company or its property damage lawyers, such as auto accident attorney Middle River MD, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your expenses in addition to its own.
All insurers are not the same. When comparing, it's worth weighing the reputations of competing agencies to find out if they pursue valid subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims with some expediency; if they keep their accountholders updated as the case goes on; 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 insurance agency has a reputation of paying out claims that aren't its responsibility and then covering its income by raising your premiums, even attractive rates won't outweigh the eventual headache.