Subrogation is a concept that's well-known in insurance and legal circles but rarely by the people who employ them. If this term has come up when dealing with your insurance agent or a legal proceeding, it would be in your benefit to comprehend the nuances of how it works. The more you know, the more likely it is that relevant proceedings will work out favorably.
Any insurance policy you hold is a commitment that, if something bad happens to you, the insurer of the policy will make good without unreasonable delay. If a hailstorm damages your home, for example, your property insurance steps in to pay you or facilitate the repairs, subject to state property damage laws.
But since determining who is financially accountable for services or repairs is usually a heavily involved affair – and delay sometimes increases the damage to the policyholder – insurance firms often decide to pay up front and assign blame after the fact. They then need a method to recoup the costs if, when all is said and done, they weren't actually responsible for the payout.
Let's Look at an Example
Your bedroom catches fire and causes $10,000 in house damages. Happily, you have property insurance and it pays out your claim in full. However, the insurance investigator discovers that an electrician had installed some faulty wiring, and there is a reasonable possibility that a judge would find him responsible for the damages. You already have your money, but your insurance firm is out all that money. What does the firm do next?
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. Normally, only you can sue for damages done to your person or property. But under subrogation law, your insurer is given some of your rights 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 Me?
For starters, if you have a deductible, your insurer wasn't the only one 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 upping your premiums and call it a day. On the other hand, if it has a proficient legal team and goes after them enthusiastically, 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 50 percent responsible), you'll typically get $500 back, depending on your state laws.
Furthermore, if the total expense 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 injury lawyers Smyrna GA, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your costs as well as its own.
All insurers are not created equal. When comparing, it's worth comparing the reputations of competing agencies to evaluate if they pursue valid subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims with some expediency; if they keep their clients apprised as the case continues; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements immediately so that you can get your losses 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 profit margin by raising your premiums, you should keep looking.
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