Subrogation and How It Affects Policyholders

Subrogation is an idea that's understood in insurance and legal circles but sometimes not by the customers who employ them. If this term has come up when dealing with your insurance agent or a legal proceeding, it would be to your advantage to know the nuances of the process. The more you know about it, the better decisions you can make with regard to your insurance policy.

Any insurance policy you have is an assurance that, if something bad happens to you, the firm on the other end of the policy will make good in a timely fashion. If a windstorm damages your property, for instance, your property insurance steps in to remunerate you or facilitate the repairs, subject to state property damage laws.

But since determining who is financially accountable for services or repairs is often a tedious, lengthy affair – and time spent waiting often compounds the damage to the victim – insurance companies often decide to pay up front and assign blame later. They then need a means to recoup the costs if, ultimately, they weren't responsible for the payout.

Can You Give an Example?

You are in a highway 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 that pays for the repairs right away. Later police tell the insurance companies that the other driver was to blame and her insurance policy should have paid for the repair of your vehicle. How does your insurance company get its money back?

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. Normally, only you can sue for damages to your self or property. But under subrogation law, your insurance company 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 Me?

For one thing, 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 choose to recoup its costs by boosting your premiums and call it a day. On the other hand, if it has a capable legal team and pursues them aggressively, it is acting both in its own interests and in yours. If all ten grand is recovered, you will get your full thousand-dollar 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, based on the laws in most states.

Moreover, if the total expense of an accident is over your maximum coverage amount, you may have had to pay the difference. If your insurance company or its property damage lawyers, such as discrimination attorney lakewood wa, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your costs in addition to its own.

All insurance agencies are not the same. When shopping around, it's worth scrutinizing the reputations of competing firms to evaluate if they pursue legitimate subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims without dragging their feet; if they keep their customers updated as the case proceeds; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements right away 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 honoring 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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