Subrogation is a term that's well-known among insurance and legal professionals but rarely by the people they represent. Even if it sounds complicated, it would be in your benefit to understand the nuances of how it works. The more knowledgeable you are about it, the better decisions you can make about your insurance policy.
Every insurance policy you own is a promise that, if something bad happens to you, the firm that covers the policy will make restitutions without unreasonable delay. If you get an injury at work, for instance, your employer's workers compensation pays out for medical services. Employment lawyers handle the details; you just get fixed up.
But since figuring out who is financially accountable for services or repairs is regularly a heavily involved affair – and time spent waiting in some cases adds to the damage to the victim – insurance firms usually decide to pay up front and figure out the blame afterward. They then need a means to recover the costs if, when there is time to look at all the facts, they weren't actually responsible for the expense.
You are in a traffic-light accident. Another car collided with yours. Police are called, you exchange insurance details, 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 car. How does your company get its funds back?
How Does Subrogation Work?
This is where subrogation comes in. It is the way that an insurance company uses to claim payment after it has paid for something that should have been paid by some other entity. 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. Ordinarily, only you can sue for damages to your person or property. But under subrogation law, your insurer is considered to have some of your rights for having taken care of the damages. It can go after the money that was originally due to you, because it has covered the amount already.
Why Does This Matter to Me?
For one thing, if you have a deductible, it wasn't just your insurer 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 lax about bringing subrogation cases to court, it might choose to recoup its expenses by boosting your premiums and call it a day. On the other hand, if it knows which cases it is owed and goes after those cases aggressively, it is doing you a favor as well as itself. If all $10,000 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 at fault), 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, which can be extremely expensive. If your insurance company or its property damage lawyers, such as lawyers for car accidents Dunwoody ga, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your losses in addition to its own.
All insurance companies are not created equal. When comparing, it's worth scrutinizing the records of competing agencies to find out whether they pursue legitimate subrogation claims; if they do so without dragging their feet; if they keep their accountholders informed as the case continues; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements immediately so that you can get your funding back and move on with your life. If, instead, an insurer has a reputation of honoring claims that aren't its responsibility and then safeguarding its income by raising your premiums, you should keep looking.