Fun Insurance Words Defined: Subrogate

Subrogate means

I remember being a wide-eyed prospective insurance agent sitting in licensing school when the venerable Al Bing beat words like ‘subrogate’ and ‘indemnify‘ into my head. He also beat into our heads the idea that medical expenses pay ‘regardless of fault, regardless of fault, regardless of fault.’ I’ll save that principle for a future post.

In those two 20 hour weekends, I had more than my little brain could handle.

Subrogation can be a very confusing principle to read about. Just check out the Wikipedia article only one time and explain it to your best friend. Good luck with that.

Rednecks, Trucks, and Subrogation

I’ll redneck the word ‘subrogate’ down for you.

If you hit my truck with your truck, and my insurance company pays to repair my truck, my insurance company will then go after your insurance company (or you if you are criminally uninsured), in order to get its money back.

That ‘go after’ could be switched to ‘subrogate against’: My insurance company would subrogate against your insurance company to get the funds back.

Emergency Rooms, Printer Paper, and Workers Compensation (and Subrogation)

Another example might be when a health insurance company pays your medical bill for that strain you got loading paper into a printer at work. Your medical insurance will ask you how you were injured. The only reason your health insurance carrier is asking you this question is so they can subrogate against a workers compensation carrier. The health insurer wants payback.

Simple Examples for a Complex Concept

My examples show a little how subrogation works. The principle itself is highly technical. The ultimate goal, though, is for the person or organization who is at fault or negligent (or who has assumed responsibility by contract, in the case of a workers compensation carrier paying a health insurer) to be the one who makes ultimate restitution. In the meantime, the insurer that is not ultimately responsible will step up. Then they’ll brandish the sword of law to get back what is owed.

I do pray this makes sense.

If not, ask your agent next time you see her. She’ll be happy to explain. And after she explains that, ask her to break down the idea of coinsurance for a business interruption claim. She’ll thank you.


What insurance concept or word messes with your head? Leave a comment and I’ll try to answer it for you.


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