If you or someone you love has been injured in an auto accident, there’s a good chance you’ve heard a phrase you may not be familiar with: health insurance subrogation. While the doctrine of subrogation is more complex than we can cover on our blog, we want to make sure to hit some the basics and give you some links to learn more if you’re curious. Because health insurance subrogation tends to be one of the last steps of insurance claims process, it’s likely that by the time you first encounter the phrase, there’s not a lot that can be done to change the outcome of the process. It’s much easier to deal with these complexities from the outset, and a good lawyer can help you do that. We’ve written extensively about how you can take advantage of a free consultation to get the answers you need in a crisis, and this is one of those situations where it’s pretty important.
Many insurance agreements include what’s called a subrogation clause. While there are many different types of subrogation, in this context it generally means that you give your insurance company the ability to stand in your shoes and defend your rights as though they were their own.
One example of a situation where this may happen is if your car was damaged in a hit and run. Say you paid your deductible, and the insurance company began to authorize bills for your vehicle’s repair. In situations like this, police officers are often able to track down the responsible party, but by the time they do, your insurance company has already paid for someone else’s responsibility.
While the rules for doing this vary from state to state, in some jurisdictions this protection even applies to partial-fault accidents. Most insurance companies follow the rules very closely and will also attempt to recover your deductible.
That’s a fairly common occurrence, and you might think that your insurance company should be able to be reimbursed by the person who actually caused the accident. Many insurance companies agree and include subrogation clauses in their contracts.
“Subrogation is a very important last step in our claims resolution process — and an important aspect of our business. The successful recovery of money we’ve paid on claims allows us to pass the savings to you, in turn helping to keep your insurance rates down.” What Is Subrogation? Allison Ruuska
The quotation above from the Progressive Insurance Company’s blog, reflects a sentiment we often hear from insurers. Very few people would disagree with this sentiment, but there’s an important twist that quotations like this one ignore.
While your insurance company will work to recover the amount of money they lost, often times the other driver’s insurance company will entice you with an offer of some payment if you sign some documents. In these situations, many drivers don’t know that they should examine the documents they are presented with very closely. That means that sometimes, well meaning drivers sign subrogation waivers without even realizing it. If you’ve done this, it’s very likely that your insurance company will reject your claim without even considering it. That’s why it’s so very important to read everything you sign and to make sure you bring any questions you may have to a qualified attorney.