What You Need to Know About Subrogation

Subrogation is an idea that's understood among insurance and legal companies but often not by the people who employ them. Even if you've never heard the word before, it would be to your advantage to comprehend the steps of how it works. The more knowledgeable you are, the more likely it is that an insurance lawsuit will work out in your favor.

An insurance policy you have is a commitment that, if something bad occurs, the company on the other end of the policy will make good in one way or another without unreasonable delay. If you get an injury at work, your company's workers compensation pays out for medical services. Employment lawyers handle the details; you just get fixed up.

But since determining who is financially accountable for services or repairs is usually a heavily involved affair – and delay sometimes compounds the damage to the policyholder – insurance firms usually decide to pay up front and figure out the blame afterward. They then need a means to regain the costs if, ultimately, they weren't actually in charge of the expense.

For Example

Your kitchen catches fire and causes $10,000 in home damages. Luckily, you have property insurance and it pays out your claim in full. However, in its investigation it finds out that an electrician had installed some faulty wiring, and there is a reasonable possibility that a judge would find him to blame for the loss. The house 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 method that an insurance company uses to claim reimbursement 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. Ordinarily, 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.

How Does This Affect the Insured?

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 lost some money too – to be precise, $1,000. If your insurer is lax about bringing subrogation cases to court, it might choose to recoup its losses by upping your premiums. On the other hand, if it knows which cases it is owed and goes after them enthusiastically, it is acting both in its own interests and in yours. 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 50 percent culpable), you'll typically get $500 back, depending on the laws in your state.

Moreover, if the total price 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 workmans comp lawyer Duluth, pursue subrogation and wins, it will recover your expenses as well as its own.

All insurance agencies are not created equal. When shopping around, it's worth examining the records of competing companies to evaluate if they pursue legitimate subrogation claims; if they do so with some expediency; if they keep their accountholders updated as the case goes on; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements immediately so that you can get your money back and move on with your life. If, on the other hand, an insurance agency has a reputation of honoring claims that aren't its responsibility and then safeguarding its profit margin by raising your premiums, you should keep looking.

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