Subrogation is an idea that's well-known in legal and insurance circles but sometimes not by the policyholders they represent. Even if it sounds complicated, it would be in your self-interest to understand an overview of the process. The more knowledgeable you are, the better decisions you can make about your insurance policy.

Every insurance policy you hold is an assurance that, if something bad happens to you, the firm that insures the policy will make good in one way or another without unreasonable delay. If you get hurt while working, your company's workers compensation insurance picks up the tab for medical services. Employment lawyers handle the details; you just get fixed up.

But since determining who is financially accountable for services or repairs is sometimes a confusing affair – and delay sometimes increases the damage to the policyholder – insurance firms in many cases opt to pay up front and figure out the blame afterward. They then need a method to regain the costs if, in the end, they weren't responsible for the expense.

Let's Look at an Example

You are in a car accident. Another car crashed into yours. The police show up to assess the situation, you exchange insurance details, 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 at fault and his insurance policy should have paid for the repair of your vehicle. How does your company get its funds back?

How Subrogation Works

This is where subrogation comes in. It is the method that an insurance company uses to claim reimbursement 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. Normally, only you can sue for damages to your self or property. But under subrogation law, your insurance company is considered to have 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 Me?

For starters, 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 have a stake in the outcome as well – namely, $1,000. If your insurer is lax about bringing subrogation cases to court, it might choose to recover its expenses by increasing your premiums. On the other hand, if it has a capable legal team and pursues those cases efficiently, it is doing you a favor as well as itself. If all ten grand is recovered, you will get your full deductible back. If it recovers half (for instance, in a case where you are found 50 percent culpable), you'll typically get $500 back, depending on your state laws.

Additionally, 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 child custody mediation Las Vegas NV, successfully press a subrogation case, it will recover your expenses as well as its own.

All insurers are not the same. When comparing, it's worth scrutinizing the records of competing companies to find out whether they pursue winnable subrogation claims; if they do so without dragging their feet; if they keep their policyholders advised as the case proceeds; 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 reputation of honoring claims that aren't its responsibility and then safeguarding its income by raising your premiums, even attractive rates won't outweigh the eventual headache.