Subrogation is a concept that's well-known in legal and insurance circles but often not by the customers they represent. If this term has come up when dealing with your insurance agent or a legal proceeding, it is to your advantage to know the steps of the process. The more information you have about it, the more likely it is that relevant proceedings will work out in your favor.
An insurance policy you own is an assurance that, if something bad occurs, the business that covers the policy will make good without unreasonable delay. If you get injured at work, for example, your employer's workers compensation picks up the tab 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 usually a confusing affair – and delay sometimes increases the damage to the policyholder – insurance firms often decide to pay up front and figure out the blame later. They then need a way to get back the costs if, when there is time to look at all the facts, they weren't in charge of the expense.
You head to the Instacare with a sliced-open finger. You hand the nurse your health insurance card and he writes down your policy details. You get stitched up and your insurance company gets an invoice for the services. But on the following afternoon, when you clock in at your workplace – where the injury occurred – you are given workers compensation paperwork to turn in. Your workers comp policy is in fact responsible for the invoice, not your health insurance company. It has a vested interest in getting that money back in some way.
How Subrogation Works
This is where subrogation comes in. It is the method that an insurance company uses to claim payment 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. Ordinarily, 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 in exchange 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 Should I Care?
For one thing, 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 be precise, $1,000. If your insurer is unconcerned with pursuing subrogation even when it is entitled, it might choose to get back its losses by upping your premiums and call it a day. On the other hand, if it knows which cases it is owed 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 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.
Furthermore, if the total expense of an accident is over your maximum coverage amount, you could be in for a stiff bill. If your insurance company or its property damage lawyers, such as immigration defense attorney Magna Ut, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your costs in addition to its own.
All insurers are not the same. When shopping around, it's worth comparing the records of competing agencies to find out whether they pursue legitimate subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims in a reasonable amount of time; if they keep their policyholders 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 insurance agency has a reputation of paying out claims that aren't its responsibility and then covering its income by raising your premiums, you'll feel the sting later.