Subrogation Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

If you’ve ever had an insurance claim, you may have heard the term “subrogation.” Read on to discover the meaning of subrogation.

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When it comes to terminology, there are many words you’ve yet to discover. Take the word subrogation, for example — do you know what this term means or how it’s used in the English language? 

Read on as we explore the word subrogation to uncover its definition, use, and more. By the end of this post, you will have a much better understanding of the term subrogation.  

Let’s get started!

What Is the Definition of Subrogation?

To truly understand the meaning of a word, it can be helpful to review multiple definitions from a variety of trusted sources. To begin our journey, we’ve compiled a few definitions from trusted dictionaries below:

  • According to the Cambridge Dictionary, subrogation refers to the ability that an insurance company has to retrieve the money it has paid to a customer back from the person who caused the accident, injury, damage, etc. 
  • The Legal Information Institute provided by Cornell Law School says subrogation is when one party takes on the legal rights of another.
  • defines subrogation as substituting one creditor for another, transferring any duties or rights that originally belonged to the initial creditor to the second. 

After reviewing the definitions listed above, we can conclude that subrogation can be defined as assuming the legal rights of an individual for whom expenses or debt has been paid. 

More often than not, subrogation is a technical term describing a situation in which your insurance company — often auto insurance — steps in to reclaim money from a third party who caused damages, injury, or losses to you or your property. 

A more literal definition refers to the legal right of an insurance company to sue a third party on the policyholder’s behalf to minimize losses and seek repayment from the true source of the damages. 

In simpler terms, when you file a claim, your insurer can try to recover costs from the individual responsible for your property damage or injury — this is known as subrogation.  

What’s an Example of Subrogation?

Let’s say someone caused serious damage to your car. You paid for the damages and submitted a subrogation claim to your auto insurer, which they paid out (minus your deductible). 

Your auto insurance company is then left with a rather large bill for something that you, the policyholder, didn’t even cause. 

Enter: subrogation.

Since the claim has been paid, your auto insurer has the ability to take legal action to reclaim that money by suing whoever was deemed responsible or the at-fault party — or the other auto insurance company.

Related Words You Should Know

As you broaden your knowledge of the word subrogation, you’ll likely come across new terms that may cause some confusion if you don’t know what they mean. To help, we’ve put together a list of related words and their definitions for you to familiarize yourself with below:

  • A subrogation claim allows the innocent paying party — aka a “collateral source” — to stand in the shoes of the injured party. 
  • Equitable subrogation is a common element in insurance policies where an insurance company recovers the claim amount from the third party who caused the damage to the insured property. 
  • Your deductible is the amount of a covered loss that you pay out of pocket. 
  • The subrogation clause explicitly allows your insurance company the right to sue a third party for damages or losses on your behalf.  
  • A waiver of subrogation is simply an endorsement that prohibits an insurance company from recovering the money they paid out on a claim from a negligent third party.

Examples of the Word Subrogation in a Sentence

Now that you understand what subrogation means, it’s time to practice using the term in a sentence. 

Quiz yourself to see how many sentences you can come up with on your own, or feel free to check out our sentence examples listed below:

In these tricky cases, subrogation may be rendered impossible or worthless.

Bob told Sally that subrogation wouldn’t come to play until the loss had been covered.

Did you know that subrogation takes about six months on average?

He was trying to waive subrogation, but the car insurance policy issuer wouldn’t let him.

The subrogation clause is common in auto, health insurance, and homeowners policies.

In case you didn’t know, if your auto insurance company doesn’t pursue subrogation, you can still sue the at-fault party on your own to seek reimbursement for your deductible.

You probably already know this, but a basic principle of property liability insurance contracts is the principle of subrogation.

I was told that the Insurer could only access the right of subrogation after the amount of the claim is paid to the insured.

My dad said policyholders actually benefit from subrogation because it keeps premiums so low for good drivers and helps insurance companies pay claims quickly.


So, what is the definition of subrogation, you ask? 

In short, subrogation means one person or party is entitled to make a demand in the place of another. 

Subrogation issues come to light when a person has been injured, and someone other than the individual or party at fault pays for all or some of the damages or losses resulting from the injury.

Although it can vary, subrogation processes usually take place between insurance companies without the involvement of the policyholder. 


  1. Subrogation Meaning | Your Dictionary
  2. Subrogation | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute
  3. SUBROGATION | definition | Cambridge English Dictionary