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Subrogation and How It Affects Your Insurance

Subrogation is an idea that's understood in insurance and legal circles but sometimes not by the people they represent. Even if you've never heard the word before, it is in your self-interest to comprehend the steps of the process. The more knowledgeable you are, the better decisions you can make with regard to your insurance company.

An insurance policy you own is a commitment that, if something bad happens to you, the insurer of the policy will make restitutions in a timely manner. If you get hurt on the job, your employer's workers compensation insurance pays out for medical services. Employment lawyers handle the details; you just get fixed up.

But since determining who is financially responsible for services or repairs is usually a heavily involved affair – and delay often compounds the damage to the policyholder – insurance companies in many cases decide to pay up front and figure out the blame after the fact. They then need a means to recoup the costs if, when all is said and done, they weren't actually responsible for the expense.

Can You Give an Example?

You are in an auto accident. Another car collided with yours. The police show up to assess the situation, 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 to blame and his insurance policy should have paid for the repair of your vehicle. How does your insurance company get its funds back?

How Does Subrogation Work?

This is where subrogation comes in. It is the method 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. Usually, only you can sue for damages done to your self or property. But under subrogation law, your insurance company is given 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.

Why Should I Care?

For a start, if your insurance policy stipulated a deductible, your insurance company wasn't the only one who had to pay. In a $10,000 accident with a $1,000 deductible, you lost some money too – to the tune of $1,000. If your insurer is timid on any subrogation case it might not win, it might opt to recover its expenses by raising your premiums and call it a day. On the other hand, if it has a knowledgeable legal team and goes after 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 one-half culpable), you'll typically get half your deductible back, depending on the laws in your state.

Furthermore, if the total cost of an accident is more than your maximum coverage amount, you could be in for a stiff bill. If your insurance company or its property damage lawyers, such as accidental death attorney Frederick MD, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your losses in addition to its own.

All insurance companies are not created equal. When shopping around, it's worth looking at the reputations of competing firms to evaluate if they pursue winnable subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims quickly; if they keep their customers advised as the case proceeds; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements quickly 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 paying out claims that aren't its responsibility and then safeguarding its profitability by raising your premiums, even attractive rates won't outweigh the eventual headache.


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