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Subrogation and How It Affects You

Subrogation is a concept that's understood among insurance and legal firms but often not by the customers they represent. Even if you've never heard the word before, it would be in your benefit to understand the nuances of the process. The more you know, the more likely relevant proceedings will work out in your favor.

Every insurance policy you own is a promise that, if something bad occurs, the company that insures the policy will make good in one way or another without unreasonable delay. If your vehicle is in a fender-bender, insurance adjusters (and the courts, when necessary) decide who was to blame and that person's insurance covers the damages.

But since determining who is financially accountable for services or repairs is regularly a time-consuming affair – and delay in some cases increases the damage to the victim – insurance companies in many cases opt to pay up front and figure out the blame after the fact. They then need a mechanism to get back the costs if, ultimately, they weren't actually in charge of the expense.

Can You Give an Example?

You arrive at the emergency room with a gouged finger. You hand the nurse your medical insurance card and he writes down your coverage information. You get taken care of and your insurer gets an invoice for the medical care. But on the following day, when you get to your place of employment – where the injury occurred – your boss hands you workers compensation forms to file. Your employer's workers comp policy is actually responsible for the bill, not your medical insurance. It has a vested interest in getting that money back in some way.

How Does Subrogation Work?

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 companies have in-house property damage lawyers and personal injury attorneys, or a department dedicated to subrogation; others contract with a law firm. Usually, only you can sue for damages to your self 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.

Why Do I Need to Know This?

For starters, if your insurance policy stipulated 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 – to the tune of $1,000. If your insurance company is lax about bringing subrogation cases to court, it might choose to recover its costs by increasing 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 acting both in its own interests and in yours. If all $10,000 is recovered, you will get your full deductible back. If it recovers half (for instance, in a case where you are found 50 percent accountable), you'll typically get half your deductible back, depending on your state laws.

Furthermore, if the total cost 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 getting a divorce with kids Lindon ut, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your expenses in addition to its own.

All insurers are not the same. When comparing, it's worth looking at the records of competing companies to determine whether they pursue legitimate subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims with some expediency; if they keep their account holders apprised as the case goes on; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements quickly so that you can get your deductible back and move on with your life. If, on the other hand, an insurance firm has a record of honoring claims that aren't its responsibility and then safeguarding its profitability by raising your premiums, you should keep looking.

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