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Subrogation is a term that's understood in insurance and legal circles but sometimes not by the people they represent. Even if it sounds complicated, it would be in your benefit to know the steps of the process. The more knowledgeable you are, the better decisions you can make about your insurance company.
Every insurance policy you have is an assurance that, if something bad happens to you, the firm on the other end of the policy will make good in a timely fashion. If you get hurt while working, your company's workers compensation picks up the tab for medical services. Employment lawyers handle the details; you just get fixed up.
But since ascertaining who is financially accountable for services or repairs is sometimes a time-consuming affair – and delay sometimes compounds the damage to the victim – insurance firms often decide to pay up front and figure out the blame later. They then need a method to get back the costs if, in the end, they weren't responsible for the payout.
Let's Look at an Example
You arrive at the Instacare with a deeply cut finger. You give the receptionist your medical insurance card and he takes down your policy information. You get stitches and your insurance company is billed for the medical care. But the next afternoon, when you get to work – where the injury happened – your boss hands you workers compensation paperwork to fill out. Your company's workers comp policy is in fact responsible for the hospital trip, not your medical insurance. The latter has an interest in recovering its money somehow.
How Subrogation Works
This is where subrogation comes in. It is the process 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 done to your self 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 originally due to you, because it has covered the amount already.
How Does This Affect Policyholders?
For a start, if you have a deductible, it wasn't just your insurance company that 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 timid on any subrogation case it might not win, it might opt to recoup its losses by increasing your premiums and call it a day. On the other hand, if it has a competent legal team and goes after those cases aggressively, it is acting both in its own interests and in yours. If all of the money 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 accountable), you'll typically get half your deductible back, depending on your state laws.
In addition, if the total loss of an accident is more than your maximum coverage amount, you may have had to pay the difference, which can be extremely spendy. If your insurance company or its property damage lawyers, such as workers comp lawyer Whitewater, WI, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your losses in addition to its own.
All insurers are not created equal. When shopping around, it's worth contrasting the reputations of competing agencies to find out if they pursue valid subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims without dragging their feet; if they keep their clients updated 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, instead, an insurer has a record of paying out claims that aren't its responsibility and then covering its profitability by raising your premiums, even attractive rates won't outweigh the eventual headache.
workers comp lawyer Norcross GA wasn't something I pondered about until I had my very first occupational injury a month ago. I was taking inventory of the warehouse when it happened. Someone in the opposite lane was using a forklift to place a pallet, and in doing so knocked a box of DVD's off the ledge. The box crashed into my left shoulder. The jolt hurled me to the ground hard. Right when I collided with the ground I discerned something was terribly wrong. The agony was sudden and acute. But my thoughts were elsewhere, because as a person without health care I didn't think I'd be able to afford health care if my company figured out some method to avoid paying medical costs for my newly dislocated shoulder. You can see I've never trusted upper-management. Luckily, that wouldn't be a problem. As it turned out, my employer had wisely bought workman's compensation insurance. So basically I had no reason to worry. My hospital bills were already on their way to being paid. And the greatest part about being covered was the workman comp company compensated me for lost hours because of my injury.
Subrogation is an idea that's understood in insurance and legal circles but sometimes not by the policyholders they represent. If this term has come up when dealing with your insurance agent or a legal proceeding, it would be in your self-interest to understand the steps of the process. The more you know, the more likely an insurance lawsuit will work out in your favor.
Any insurance policy you own is a promise that, if something bad happens to you, the firm that covers the policy will make restitutions in a timely fashion. If your property is broken into, for instance, your property insurance agrees to repay you or pay for the repairs, subject to state property damage laws.
But since determining who is financially responsible for services or repairs is typically a heavily involved affair – and time spent waiting sometimes compounds the damage to the policyholder – insurance companies often decide to pay up front and assign blame after the fact. They then need a path to regain the costs if, once the situation is fully assessed, they weren't actually responsible for the payout.
You are in a traffic-light accident. Another car collided with yours. Police are called, you exchange insurance information, and you go on your way. You have comprehensive insurance and file a repair claim. Later police tell the insurance companies that the other driver was entirely to blame and her insurance should have paid for the repair of your car. How does your company get its funds back?
How Does Subrogation Work?
This is where subrogation comes in. It is the method that an insurance company uses to claim reimbursement after it has paid for something that should have been paid by some other entity. 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. Under ordinary circumstances, only you can sue for damages done to your person or property. But under subrogation law, your insurer is extended some of your rights for having taken care of the damages. It can go after the money that was originally due to you, because it has covered the amount already.
Why Do I Need to Know This?
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 – to the tune of $1,000. If your insurance company is unconcerned with pursuing subrogation even when it is entitled, it might choose to recoup its expenses by raising your premiums and call it a day. On the other hand, if it has a capable legal team and pursues them enthusiastically, it is acting both in its own interests and in yours. If all of the money is recovered, you will get your full deductible back. If it recovers half (for instance, in a case where you are found one-half at fault), you'll typically get half your deductible back, depending on the laws in your state.
Furthermore, 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 family law firm Vancouver WA, pursue subrogation and succeeds, it will recover your expenses in addition to its own.
All insurance companies are not the same. When comparing, it's worth weighing the records of competing firms to find out if they pursue valid subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims without delay; if they keep their policyholders apprised as the case continues; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements right away so that you can get your money back and move on with your life. If, instead, an insurance agency has a reputation of paying out claims that aren't its responsibility and then covering its bottom line by raising your premiums, you'll feel the sting later.