Winter Subrogation

What are some common situations for subrogation in winter?  There are a few!

1.  Potholes

With the temperature fluctuating, our streets become riddled with potholes.  Driving over these can often cause significant damage to vehicles.  Who is responsible for maintaining roads?  It’s likely the city or municipality.  It is important to send notice to the city or municipality immediately after the damage occurs.  This is important for two reasons.  One is that the city will attempt to repair the pot hole, preventing further damage.  The other reason is that the notification for most cities is needed within 7-15 days if there’s any chance of subrogation recovery.  It is important to follow up on these notices, and to thoroughly document loss details.

2.  Snow Plows

Most often, when vehicles are parked on the side of a road, and a plow goes by after a heavy snow, there is a chance for damage to the parked vehicle.  Snow plows long gone though, right?  Maybe not.  Ensure that photos and a cause of the damage to the vehicle are documented as soon as possible.  If the damage is consistent with being hit by a plow, there is a chance of recovery.  Find out what time the damage occurred, if there were any other vehicles damaged, and who was responsible for the snow removal.  Not always easy, but worth a shot!

3.  Snow Birds

Lucky folks will get out of the snow for winter, and head south to the U.S.  Almost all states are tort for recovery.  This means that you go to the at-fault party for recovery of damage.  If one vehicle does not have collision coverage, that driver has to go directly to the other insurance company for their damage.  It’s important to ensure adequate reserving for these losses, as the at-fault company has an exposure to third party property damage, as well as injury claims.

The important keys for pursuing subrogation successfully is to recognize the opportunities early, and to get complete details of the loss, and documentation to support damage and payments.  Attempting recovery too late often leads to failure.

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