How does auto insurance claim subrogation work?

You must have collision coverage on the damaged vehicle to make a claim with your insurance company. Your insurer will assign an adjuster to confirm coverage, investigate the crash, assess damage and pay the claim. The loss settlement is paid according to terms outlined in your policy. This means your collision deductible applies even if the crash is not your fault.

Subrogation begins when the claim is paid. Your insurance company contacts the at-fault driver's insurer to request damages that were paid to repair your vehicle as well as your collision deductible. The policyholder is not directly involved in the subrogation process. Your insurance company handles negotiations and requests mediation if necessary. Your collision deductible will be refunded if the insurer is 100 percent successful. If not, the money received is split proportionately.

There is no specific time frame to conclude the subrogation process. It could take 30 to 60 days if both insurance companies agree on damages and fault. A complex claim involving multiple parties or disputed facts takes much longer to resolve.

Keep in mind there may be consequences to making a claim with your insurance company, even for a not-at-fault accident. The insurer may remove a claim-free discount, add an accident surcharge if the investigation concludes you are partially at-fault, nonrenew your policy for loss experience, or take other action according to company guidelines. Your local agent can provide more insight.