Subrogation is a term that's well-known in insurance and legal circles but rarely by the customers 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 information you have about it, the more likely an insurance lawsuit will work out favorably.

Every insurance policy you own is a commitment that, if something bad happens to you, the firm that insures the policy will make restitutions without unreasonable delay. If your house is burglarized, your property insurance agrees to pay you or enable the repairs, subject to state property damage laws.

But since figuring out who is financially responsible for services or repairs is usually a time-consuming affair – and delay in some cases adds to the damage to the victim – insurance companies usually opt to pay up front and figure out the blame afterward. They then need a means to get back the costs if, when there is time to look at all the facts, they weren't responsible for the expense.

Can You Give an Example?

Your bedroom catches fire and causes $10,000 in home damages. Fortunately, 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 decent chance that a judge would find him liable for the loss. You already have your money, but your insurance company is out all that money. What does the company do next?

How Does Subrogation Work?

This is where subrogation comes in. It is the method that an insurance company uses to claim payment 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. Usually, 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 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 Does This Matter to Me?

For one thing, if your insurance policy stipulated a deductible, it wasn't just your insurance company who 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 opt to get back its expenses by ballooning your premiums and call it a day. On the other hand, if it knows which cases it is owed and goes after those cases efficiently, it is acting both in its own interests and in yours. 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 half your deductible back, based on the laws in most states.

Moreover, if the total loss of an accident is more than your maximum coverage amount, you may have had to pay the difference. If your insurance company or its property damage lawyers, such as workers comp insurance Manassas, VA, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your expenses as well as its own.

All insurers are not the same. When shopping around, it's worth weighing the records of competing companies to evaluate whether they pursue valid subrogation claims; if they do so in a reasonable amount of time; if they keep their customers posted as the case goes on; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements immediately so that you can get your funding back and move on with your life. If, instead, an insurance agency has a record of paying out claims that aren't its responsibility and then covering its profit margin by raising your premiums, even attractive rates won't outweigh the eventual headache.

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