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Subrogation is a concept that's understood among insurance and legal firms but often not by the people 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 an overview of the process. The more you know about it, the better decisions you can make with regard to your insurance policy.
Any insurance policy you have is an assurance that, if something bad happens to you, the business that insures the policy will make good in one way or another without unreasonable delay. If you get an injury at work, for example, your employer's workers compensation insurance agrees to pay for medical services. Employment lawyers handle the details; you just get fixed up.
But since determining who is financially responsible for services or repairs is regularly a time-consuming affair – and time spent waiting in some cases compounds the damage to the policyholder – insurance companies usually decide to pay up front and figure out the blame later. They then need a means to get back the costs if, when there is time to look at all the facts, they weren't in charge of the expense.
Can You Give an Example?
You are in an auto accident. Another car crashed into yours. Police are called, you exchange insurance details, and you go on your way. You have comprehensive insurance and file a repair claim. Later it's determined that the other driver was at fault and her insurance policy should have paid for the repair of your auto. How does your company get its money back?
How Does Subrogation Work?
This is where subrogation comes in. It is the method that an insurance company uses to claim payment 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 to your person or property. But under subrogation law, your insurance company 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.
Why Do I Need to Know This?
For starters, 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 insurance company is unconcerned with pursuing subrogation even when it is entitled, it might choose to recoup its expenses by upping your premiums and call it a day. On the other hand, if it knows which cases it is owed and pursues 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 $1,000 deductible back. If it recovers half (for instance, in a case where you are found 50 percent culpable), you'll typically get $500 back, based on the laws in most states.
Furthermore, if the total price 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 workmans comp lawyer Duluth, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your costs as well as its own.
All insurance companies are not created equal. When shopping around, it's worth looking at the reputations of competing agencies to evaluate if they pursue valid subrogation claims; if they do so quickly; if they keep their policyholders informed as the case continues; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements quickly so that you can get your funding back and move on with your life. If, on the other hand, an insurance agency has a record of honoring claims that aren't its responsibility and then protecting its income by raising your premiums, you'll feel the sting later.
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