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Subrogation is a term that's understood in insurance and legal circles but often not by the people who hire them. Even if you've never heard the word before, it is in your self-interest to comprehend the nuances of the process. The more you know, the more likely relevant proceedings will work out in your favor.
An insurance policy you have is a promise that, if something bad happens to you, the business that covers the policy will make good in one way or another without unreasonable delay. If a blizzard damages your real estate, your property insurance agrees to remunerate you or enable the repairs, subject to state property damage laws.
But since figuring out who is financially accountable for services or repairs is regularly a heavily involved affair – and delay in some cases increases the damage to the victim – insurance firms usually decide to pay up front and figure out the blame later. They then need a method to get back the costs if, ultimately, they weren't actually in charge of the payout.
Can You Give an Example?
Your kitchen catches fire and causes $10,000 in house damages. Luckily, you have property insurance and it pays out your claim in full. However, the assessor assigned to your case discovers that an electrician had installed some faulty wiring, and there is reason to believe that a judge would find him responsible for the damages. You already have your money, but your insurance company is out ten grand. What does the company do next?
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 to your person or property. But under subrogation law, your insurance company is given some of your rights in exchange 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.
How Does This Affect Individuals?
For one thing, 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 – namely, $1,000. If your insurance company is unconcerned with pursuing subrogation even when it is entitled, it might choose to recover its losses by ballooning your premiums. On the other hand, if it knows which cases it is owed and pursues them efficiently, 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 at fault), you'll typically get half your deductible back, based on the laws in most states.
Moreover, 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 accident lawyer Toronto, pursue subrogation and succeeds, it will recover your losses as well as its own.
All insurers are not created equal. When comparing, it's worth contrasting the records of competing companies to evaluate whether they pursue valid subrogation claims; if they resolve those claims without dragging their feet; if they keep their clients apprised as the case proceeds; 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 company has a record of honoring claims that aren't its responsibility and then covering its bottom line by raising your premiums, even attractive rates won't outweigh the eventual headache.