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Subrogation and How It Affects You

Subrogation is a concept that's understood among insurance and legal professionals but sometimes not by the people who hire them. Even if it sounds complicated, it would be in your benefit to comprehend the steps of how it works. The more you know, the better decisions you can make about your insurance policy.

Any insurance policy you hold is a promise that, if something bad occurs, the company on the other end of the policy will make restitutions without unreasonable delay. If your vehicle is in a fender-bender, insurance adjusters (and the courts, when necessary) determine who was at fault and that person's insurance pays out.

But since figuring out who is financially responsible for services or repairs is sometimes a time-consuming affair – and delay sometimes increases the damage to the victim – insurance companies often decide to pay up front and assign blame afterward. They then need a means to recoup the costs if, once the situation is fully assessed, they weren't actually responsible for the payout.

Let's Look at an Example

You go to the hospital with a sliced-open finger. You hand the nurse your health insurance card and he takes down your plan details. You get stitches and your insurance company gets an invoice for the services. But on the following afternoon, when you clock in at work – where the injury occurred – your boss hands you workers compensation forms to fill out. Your employer's workers comp policy is actually responsible for the invoice, not your health insurance policy. The latter has a right to recover its money in some way.

How Subrogation Works

This is where subrogation comes in. It is the way 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. Usually, only you can sue for damages done 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 a start, 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 lost some money too – namely, $1,000. If your insurer is timid on any subrogation case it might not win, it might opt to recover its expenses by upping your premiums. On the other hand, if it has a competent legal team and goes after those cases enthusiastically, it is acting both in its own interests and in yours. If all $10,000 is recovered, you will get your full deductible back. If it recovers half (for instance, in a case where you are found 50 percent accountable), you'll typically get half your deductible back, based on the laws in most states.

Furthermore, if the total price 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 employment law olympia wa, pursue subrogation and wins, it will recover your losses in addition to its own.

All insurers are not the same. When comparing, it's worth contrasting the reputations of competing companies to evaluate whether they pursue winnable subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims with some expediency; if they keep their accountholders posted as the case goes on; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements right away so that you can get your deductible back and move on with your life. If, instead, an insurer has a record of paying out claims that aren't its responsibility and then protecting its income by raising your premiums, even attractive rates won't outweigh the eventual headache.


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