Subrogation is a term that's understood among legal and insurance professionals but sometimes not by the people who employ them. If this term has come up when dealing with your insurance agent or a legal proceeding, it is in your self-interest to know an overview of the process. The more you know, the more likely it is that an insurance lawsuit will work out favorably.
Any insurance policy you hold is an assurance that, if something bad occurs, the company that insures the policy will make restitutions in one way or another without unreasonable delay. If you get an injury on the job, for example, your company'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 sometimes a heavily involved affair – and time spent waiting often compounds the damage to the policyholder – insurance firms in many cases decide to pay up front and assign blame later. They then need a path to get back the costs if, ultimately, they weren't actually in charge of the expense.
Let's Look at an Example
You rush into the hospital with a gouged finger. You hand the receptionist your health insurance card and he takes down your coverage information. You get taken care of and your insurance company gets an invoice for the tab. But on the following day, when you arrive at work – where the injury occurred – your boss hands you workers compensation forms to file. Your workers comp policy is in fact responsible for the payout, not your health insurance policy. The latter has an interest in recovering its costs somehow.
How Subrogation Works
This is where subrogation comes in. It is the process 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 person or property. But under subrogation law, your insurance company is given some of your rights in exchange for making good on the damages. It can go after the money that was originally due to you, because it has covered the amount already.
How Does This Affect Individuals?
For starters, if you have a deductible, it wasn't just your insurance company who had to pay. In a $10,000 accident with a $1,000 deductible, you lost some money too – namely, $1,000. If your insurance company is timid on any subrogation case it might not win, it might choose to get back its costs by ballooning your premiums and call it a day. On the other hand, if it knows which cases it is owed and pursues them efficiently, it is doing you a favor as well as itself. If all is recovered, you will get your full deductible back. If it recovers half (for instance, in a case where you are found one-half accountable), you'll typically get $500 back, depending on the laws in your state.
Moreover, if the total loss of an accident is over your maximum coverage amount, you may have had to pay the difference. If your insurance company or its property damage lawyers, such as child custody rights Henderson NV, pursue subrogation and succeeds, it will recover your expenses in addition to its own.
All insurance companies are not the same. When shopping around, it's worth scrutinizing the reputations of competing companies to find out whether they pursue legitimate subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims in a reasonable amount of time; if they keep their clients updated as the case goes on; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements immediately so that you can get your deductible back and move on with your life. If, on the other hand, an insurance company has a record of honoring claims that aren't its responsibility and then safeguarding its profit margin by raising your premiums, you'll feel the sting later.