Many consumers injured in auto collisions are surprised to learn they have to repay their own insurance company when the case is settled. The obligation comes from a clause in the insurance policy requiring the consumer reimburse the company if any of their medical bills were submitted and paid for under their own policy. Referred to as “subrogation”, this procedure allows the company to take money from the consumer in the form of premium payments, but recover any benefits they paid out if the coverage is used. Not a bad deal for the insurance company. Many consumers wonder why they made monthly premiums if they have to pay it back. The insurance industry’s usual response is this helps them keep rates low. Whether or not this is true, there are some things you can do to limit the reimbursement if not eliminate the obligation altogether. Several court cases in Washington and Oregon provide certain tools to do this. One method involves cases where the other driver claims you have some percentage of fault for the collision. In Washington, this allegation can be used to eliminate the reimbursement. Oregon has fewer tools in this area but does recognize a consumer has to be fully compensated for all past and future medical bills before the obligation to repay arises. If you’re uncertain about your obligations, a visit with an attorney knowledgeable in this area could save you a substantial amount.
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