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Subrogation is a concept that's understood among legal and insurance companies but sometimes not by the customers they represent. Even if it sounds complicated, it would be in your self-interest to comprehend the steps of how it works. The more knowledgeable you are, the better decisions you can make about your insurance policy.
Every insurance policy you own is a commitment that, if something bad happens to you, the firm on the other end of the policy will make restitutions without unreasonable delay. If you get hurt on the job, your employer's workers compensation agrees to pay for medical services. Employment lawyers handle the details; you just get fixed up.
But since ascertaining who is financially responsible for services or repairs is regularly a time-consuming affair – and delay sometimes increases the damage to the policyholder – insurance companies in many cases decide to pay up front and assign blame afterward. They then need a means to recover the costs if, when all the facts are laid out, they weren't in charge of the payout.
Your garage catches fire and causes $10,000 in home damages. Fortunately, you have property insurance and it takes care of the repair expenses. However, in its investigation it discovers that an electrician had installed some faulty wiring, and there is reason to believe that a judge would find him to blame for the damages. The home has already been repaired in the name of expediency, but your insurance firm is out $10,000. What does the firm do next?
How Does Subrogation Work?
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 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 the Insured?
For one thing, if your insurance policy stipulated a deductible, it wasn't just your insurance company that had to pay. In a $10,000 accident with a $1,000 deductible, you have a stake in the outcome as well – to be precise, $1,000. If your insurance company is unconcerned with pursuing subrogation even when it is entitled, it might choose to get back its expenses by raising your premiums and call it a day. On the other hand, if it knows which cases it is owed and pursues those cases efficiently, it is doing you a favor as well as itself. 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 culpable), you'll typically get half your deductible back, based on the laws in most states.
Additionally, if the total loss 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 workers comp attorney Lithia Springs GA, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your costs in addition to its own.
All insurers are not created equal. When comparing, it's worth weighing the records of competing agencies to find out whether they pursue valid subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims with some expediency; if they keep their policyholders posted as the case proceeds; 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 insurer has a reputation of paying out claims that aren't its responsibility and then covering its profitability by raising your premiums, you'll feel the sting later.