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What is subrogation and why is it important to my claim?

Unless you are an insurance industry insider or an attorney, chances are you have never before encountered the term "subrogation." It just doesn't come up in many casual conversations.

However, it is a very important concept that can have an effect on any insurance claim or settlement you may have pending, so it's best to understand its meaning.

Subrogation is a process under which insurance companies can recover some costs they pay out for claims. This legal right allows an insurance company to make payments to claimants when other liable parties like another driver's insurer actually are the ones ultimately responsible for paying the claims. The insurance company that pays out the claim can then go after the insurer who bears liability after the fact.

Under most circumstances, plaintiffs won't have to deal with the subrogation process, as this is an issue for the insurance companies to negotiate. But under the law, the insurance companies must inform consumers if they intend to pursue subrogation.

This can affect you in a couple of ways. For example, if you initially paid a deductible during the claims process and your insurance company uses subrogation in order to get back some of their costs, your deductible is one of those costs they must seek to recover. If they are successful, they have to refund the sum to you.

It should be noted that claimants do not have to depend on their insurers to attempt to recover any deductibles, as they are always free to take this action on their own. But it can be a lot easier to let the professionals handle it.

During the subrogation process, your cooperation is required, meaning that you can't sign agreements or waivers releasing an at-fault driver from liability for the accident.

If you have questions about the subrogation process, direct them to the personal injury attorney handling your claim.

Source: dmv.org, "Subrogation," accessed Jan. 06, 2017

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