Subrogation: Meaning and Definition

"Substitution" is what the term "subrogation" means. This phrase can be quite useful if a third party destroys your car but refuses to accept responsibility. In this case, your insurer will stand up for you in trying to recover the claim amount from the at-fault party. According to a legal principle, one person has the right to defend their own interests by enforcing the continuing or restored rights of another.

Meaning of Subrogation

A right that most insurance companies have to take legal action against a third party that caused an insured's insurance loss is known as subrogation. To recoup the amount of the claim payment made by the insurance company to the insured for the loss is done. Literally speaking, subrogation is the action of one party taking the place of another. It effectively outlines the insurance company's rights before and after it pays claims made in accordance with a policy. The process of receiving a settlement under an insurance policy is also simplified.

While an insurance company sues a third party for damages, it is said to "step into the shoes of the policyholder," and as a result, it will have the same rights and legal standing as the policyholder while pursuing damages. The insurer will also be prevented from filing a case if the insured party lacks the ability to sue the third party.

Origin of Subrogation

There is a long history to the subrogation idea. According to reports, Mc Cardie J. described the theory's history in the case of John Edwards and Co v. Motor Union Insurance Co. Ltd. [(1922) 2 KB 249 (CA)], noting that the doctrine had its roots in Roman law. The doctrine is credited to a creature of equity by several historians as well. Although the doctrine primarily applies to insurance law, it is also used in other areas of the law, including the Bill of Exchange and other areas.

According to legend, the idea of insurance first appeared in the sixteenth century, when merchants frequently incurred the risk of losing their goods and ships at sea. Marine insurance is one of the earliest recognised types of insurance. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the idea of insurance went even further and began to cover all kinds of transactions, including personal accident insurance, fire insurance, industrial insurance, and so forth, as its significance in both economic and social spheres of life increased.

It is essential that the insured has a thorough understanding of all the risks involved in every insurance policy before ceding their rights. The idea of subrogation describes the connection that exists between the insured, the insurer, and a third party.

Types of Subrogation

Following are the major types of subrogation −

Equitable Subrogation

One of the most frequent provisions in insurance plans is equitable subrogation, which allows an insurance provider to recover the claim amount from the entity responsible for the covered vehicle's damage. The majority of instances involve third parties; however, there are occasional exceptions, such as damage from an earthquake or a flood. In those circumstances, subrogation is not possible.

Contractual Subrogation

A contractual subrogation, often referred to as a "conventional subrogation," occurs when an insurer is given the right to represent the insured in court against a third party after the insured has given up his right to do so. According to contractual subrogation, an insurer may sue the third party for the damage repaid if the insured decides, for their own peace of mind, not to continue with subrogation.

Statutory Subrogation

A statutory subrogation, in contrast to the other two subrogation, does not entail an insurance company paying for damages to the insured vehicle brought on by third parties. In this scenario, the insured and the other party agree to settle the damage amount amongst themselves without consulting the insurance provider. Compared to the other two subrogation, this process is easier.

When Does Subrogation Occur

If another person is found to be at least partially responsible for your accident, subrogation may be applicable. An illustration would be if your car were rear-ended while you were at a stoplight. Following the submission of a claim under your collision insurance, your insurer issues you a check for the cost of repairs, less your deductible.

Subrogation is the legal term for the process wherein your insurer, acting on your behalf, asks the at-fault driver's insurance company to reimburse you for the amount it paid to pay your claim. If your insurer prevails, they might use the money they get from the other insurance provider to pay all or part of your deductible for you.

The Subrogation Principle in Practice

The subrogation principle is thought to be mostly used in the insurance industry. Subrogation allows an insurance company to pursue the party responsible for the damage for the amount of the insurance claim that was paid to the insured client. Keep in mind that the insurance company in these circumstances represents the insured client's interests. Subrogation is, in other words, a recourse available to the insurance provider for the settled insurance claim.

Normally, contracts between the insurance company and the insured party specify the subrogation right. Contracts may include specific language granting the insurance company the authority to begin the process of pursuing payment of the insurance claim from the party responsible for the insured party's damages. One of the equitable theories in nations with common-law legal systems is subrogation.


Overall, it is crucial to pay close attention to how the insured party is compensated for the damage sustained while evaluating the applicability of the equitable subrogation rules. The profile of a given exposure may be greatly impacted by the existence or absence of rights of subrogation, particularly in the case of large and complicated risks involving several insureds. After a loss has occurred, the party taking charge of the proceedings must exercise caution with regard to any settlement and make sure that it upholds its obligation of good faith. The settlement must be in line with legal counsel regarding the entire claim's merits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is the indemnity principle?

Ans. According to the principle of indemnification, an insurance contract only pays out for damage, loss, or injury you may have caused up to the amount of the actual loss. A contract for insurance ensures that, in the event of a loss, the insurer will not turn a profit.

Q2. What is a fidelity policy?

Ans. Employee dishonesty insurance, also referred to as a "fidelity bond," is a sort of commercial insurance that provides protection for an employer against financial losses brought on by the dishonest behaviour of its employees.

Q3. Is subrogation cross-liability?

Ans. Policies of insurance may contain a clause that clearly waives any rights the insurer would otherwise have to take legal action against a co-insured for losses or damages it indemnifies and recognises that each co-insured is independent and distinct. The terms "cross liability" and "waiver of subrogation" are used to describe them.

Updated on: 11-May-2023


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