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Subrogation is an idea that's understood in insurance and legal circles but often not by the people they represent. Rather than leave it to the professionals, it would be to your advantage to know the nuances of the process. The more you know about it, the better decisions you can make about your insurance company.
Every insurance policy you hold 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 a blizzard damages your property, for example, your property insurance steps in to remunerate you or enable the repairs, subject to state property damage laws.
But since figuring out who is financially responsible for services or repairs is regularly a heavily involved affair – and time spent waiting in some cases compounds the damage to the policyholder – insurance companies in many cases decide to pay up front and figure out the blame after the fact. They then need a means to recover the costs if, when all is said and done, they weren't in charge of the expense.
Can You Give an Example?
You arrive at the hospital with a gouged finger. You hand the receptionist your health insurance card and he records your policy information. You get stitches and your insurance company is billed for the tab. But on the following afternoon, when you clock in at your workplace – where the injury happened – your boss hands you workers compensation forms to fill out. Your workers comp policy is actually responsible for the hospital visit, not your health insurance policy. It has a vested interest in getting that money back in some way.
How Subrogation Works
This is where subrogation comes in. It is the process that an insurance company uses to claim reimbursement when it pays out a claim that turned out not to be its responsibility. 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. Ordinarily, 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 originally due to you, because it has covered the amount already.
How Does This Affect the Insured?
For a start, if you have 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 timid on any subrogation case it might not win, it might choose to recover its losses by raising your premiums. On the other hand, if it has a capable legal team and pursues them efficiently, it is doing you a favor as well as itself. 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 at fault), you'll typically get half your deductible back, depending on the laws in your state.
Additionally, 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 attorney Glen Burnie MD, pursue subrogation and succeeds, it will recover your losses in addition to its own.
All insurance companies are not created equal. When shopping around, it's worth contrasting the reputations of competing firms to evaluate if they pursue legitimate subrogation claims; if they do so quickly; if they keep their accountholders posted as the case goes on; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements immediately 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 paying out claims that aren't its responsibility and then protecting its bottom line by raising your premiums, even attractive rates won't outweigh the eventual headache.
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Subrogation is a term that's well-known among legal and insurance firms but often not by the customers who employ them. If this term has come up when dealing with your insurance agent or a legal proceeding, it is in your self-interest to know the nuances of the process. The more information you have about it, the more likely it is that an insurance lawsuit will work out in your favor.
An insurance policy you have is a commitment that, if something bad happens to you, the firm on the other end of the policy will make restitutions without unreasonable delay. If you get an injury on the job, your employer's workers compensation insurance pays out for medical services. Employment lawyers handle the details; you just get fixed up.
But since ascertaining who is financially responsible for services or repairs is sometimes a tedious, lengthy affair – and delay in some cases adds to the damage to the policyholder – insurance companies usually decide to pay up front and assign blame after the fact. They then need a mechanism to recover the costs if, when all the facts are laid out, they weren't responsible for the expense.
Your stove catches fire and causes $10,000 in house 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 reason to believe that a judge would find him accountable for the damages. You already have your money, but your insurance agency is out all that money. What does the agency do next?
How Does Subrogation Work?
This is where subrogation comes in. It is the process that an insurance company uses to claim reimbursement when it pays out a claim that turned out not to be its responsibility. 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. Ordinarily, 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 having taken care of the damages. It can go after the money originally due to you, because it has covered the amount already.
Why Does This Matter to Me?
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 insurer is timid on any subrogation case it might not win, it might choose 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 pursues them enthusiastically, it is doing you a favor as well as itself. 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 accountable), you'll typically get $500 back, depending on your state laws.
Additionally, if the total expense 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 divorce law 98501, pursue subrogation and wins, it will recover your expenses in addition to its own.
All insurance companies are not the same. When shopping around, it's worth looking at the records of competing agencies to find out whether they pursue winnable subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims without dragging their feet; if they keep their customers apprised as the case continues; and if they then process successfully won reimbursements right away so that you can get your funding back and move on with your life. If, on the other hand, an insurance agency has a record of honoring claims that aren't its responsibility and then covering its profitability by raising your premiums, even attractive rates won't outweigh the eventual headache.
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