Subrogation is an idea that's well-known among insurance and legal professionals but often not by the policyholders 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 know the steps of the process. The more you know about it, the better decisions you can make with regard to your insurance company.

Every insurance policy you have is a promise that, if something bad occurs, the insurer of the policy will make good in one way or another in a timely fashion. If your vehicle is rear-ended, insurance adjusters (and the courts, when necessary) determine who was to blame and that person's insurance covers the damages.

But since determining who is financially accountable for services or repairs is typically a time-consuming affair – and delay sometimes compounds the damage to the policyholder – insurance firms in many cases opt to pay up front and figure out the blame later. They then need a method to regain the costs if, when there is time to look at all the facts, they weren't actually in charge of the payout.

Let's Look at an Example

You are in a vehicle accident. Another car crashed into yours. Police are called, you exchange insurance information, and you go on your way. You have comprehensive insurance that pays for the repairs right away. Later it's determined that the other driver was entirely to blame and his 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 way that an insurance company uses to claim payment after it has paid for something that should have been paid by some other entity. 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 self or property. But under subrogation law, your insurer is given some of your rights for making good on the damages. It can go after the money originally due to you, because it has covered the amount already.

Why Should I Care?

For starters, if your insurance policy stipulated a deductible, your insurer wasn't the only one that had to pay. In a $10,000 accident with a $1,000 deductible, you have a stake in the outcome as well – to the tune of $1,000. If your insurer is unconcerned with pursuing subrogation even when it is entitled, it might opt to recover its costs by ballooning your premiums. 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 $1,000 deductible back. If it recovers half (for instance, in a case where you are found one-half responsible), you'll typically get $500 back, depending on your state laws.

Furthermore, if the total cost 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 Milton, ga, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your losses as well as its own.

All insurers are not the same. When shopping around, it's worth examining the reputations of competing agencies to evaluate if they pursue legitimate subrogation claims; if they do so without delay; if they keep their clients advised 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, on the other hand, an insurance agency has a record of paying out claims that aren't its responsibility and then covering its income by raising your premiums, even attractive rates won't outweigh the eventual headache.