The Subro Top 20

Candid Insights
By Praxis Consulting


Praxis Consulting was recently in the unique position to gather candid insights from a captive (but completely enthusiastic, nevertheless) audience. That is, we were able to coerce 44 subrogation professionals from U.S. auto insurance companies into completing a survey filled with questions everybody wants to ask, but never does.

Fortunately, because it was anonymous, our respondents were kind enough to give us all the answers we’ve been dying to know. The resulting report includes these insights, as reported at the 2009 NASP (National Association of Subrogation Professionals) Annual Conference. Hey, it’s no Gallop poll, but it’s close enough…


To add an interactive element to our exhibitor’s booth at the NASP conference, we set up two survey stations and bribed conference goers to participate with a chance to win a prize in our raffle. (We had some really great prizes, too—not the least of which was a Gibson Les Paul guitar.) Participants were asked to provide responses to 20 questions on the state of subrogation as defined by their experiences in their own companies, rather than in the industry at large. These responses were collected over a three-day period. As you can probably imagine, the funniest answers came in response to the question, “What is your favorite classic rock song?” Apparently some of our respondents think that Michael Jackson and Eric Clapton are classic rock legends. Ahem. We’ll get to that, but first, the serious stuff. (No skipping ahead, okay?)

Profile of Participants

Forty-four (44) subro professionals from a variety of positions within claims departments at insurance companies nationwide participated in our Subro Top 20 Survey. Individual company results have not been released to maintain the confidentiality of this very, very important data.


Of these participants, 44.2% (19) were management; 27.9% (12) were Subrogation Claims Adjusters; 25.6% (11) were supervisors; and 2.3% (1) described their position as ”Other.” One respondent did not indicate their position.



Respondents reported the different types of claims they handle within their departments. A majority of participants handle personal automobile (63.3%) and property claims (61.4%). Almost half (45.5%) handle commercial automobile claims, while just over a third (34.1%) handle worker’s compensation claims. Relatively fewer participants handle inland marine claims (15.9%) and health claims (2.3%), while only one participant indicated handling “Other” claims.


Key Findings

A high majority of participants (72.7%) described their company’s subrogation structure as "centralized" (Or, “Dedicated subrogation staff centralized in one location”). The only other description that garnered multiple responses was “dedicated subrogation staff in multiple locations,” which was selected by 11 respondents (25%).

Claim Specialization

More than half of participants (58.1%) indicated that claims adjusters within their companies are specialized by the types of claims they handle, while under half (41.9%) indicated the opposite. Those who indicated that claims adjusters within their companies are specialized by claim type, identified that a majority of adjusters (73.1%) within their company specialize in loss claims (e.g. collision, No Fault/Med Pay, property, worker compensation, etc.); while just under half (46.2%) specialize in arbitration filing or response or litigation (42.3%). Others specialize in uninsured motorists claims (30.8%), and 15.4% indicated “Other.”

New Subrogation Claims

(per month per person)

Claims Per Month

A majority of respondents (46.3%) indicated that, on average, subrogation professionals within their company receive less than 50 new subrogation claims per month. Percentages decreased as monthly claim ranges increased, with 24.4% indicating 50 -75 new subrogation claims per person, per month; 19.5% indicating 76 – 100; and only 9.8% indicating more than 100 new subrogation claims per person, per month.

Traits Response Percent
Attention to detail 50.0%
Ability to communicate both orally and in writing 64.3%
Perseverance 47.6%
Good Negotiator 61.9%
Analytical 33.3%
Organized 45.2%
Not Afraid to ask for
what they want
Initiative 40.5%
Other 4.8%

Pending Claims

Interestingly, despite the fact that a majority of respondents indicated less than 50 as the average number of new subrogation claims given to each person every month, a majority (71.8%) indicated that the average subrogation claim count pending per person was 300 – 500. Pending claims were not directly proportional to the number of new claims per month. In other words, a lower number of new claims was not predictive of a lower number of pending claims. The second most popular response was “Less than 300 [pending claims],” which elicited only 20.5% responses, while 5.1% indicated 501 – 750 pending claims per person and only 2.6% indicated more than 750 pending claims per person.


Considering that almost one-third of participants (29.3%) receive 76 or more claims per month as new assignments, it was not surprising that over one-quarter (27.5%) indicated they had “too much” when asked to describe their workload. Perhaps this heavy work load is due to the fact that over one-quarter of respondents (26.2%) additionally claimed their tools and resources are inadequate to performing their job—this represents a substantial number of subrogation professionals who are without a system to support their efforts.

Valued Traits

When asked which traits they feel are most important for a subrogation claim adjuster to possess, a majority of respondents (64.3%) placed high value on oral and written communication. Other popular responses were “good negotiation skills” (61.9%) and “attention to detail” (50%). Less than half, however, placed value on aggressiveness: only 47.6% valued perseverance, 45.2% valued “not being afraid to ask for what you want,” and even less (40.5%) rated initiative as having high importance.

Recovery Per Person, Per Month

When asked about monthly recovery per person, a majority of respondents offered two equal but distinct responses: 35.9% (14 respondents) claimed their companies’ average monthly per person recovery rate to be Less than $100,000. The exact same number of people claimed their companies’ average monthly per person recovery rate to be $150,001 - $200,000. Sandwiched between these responses were the 15.4% who claimed their company’s average per person monthly recovery rate to be somewhere between $100,000 and $150,000.

Job Openings Within Companies & Career Advancement Opportunities

An overwhelming majority (90.5%) indicated that their subrogation units did not have any open positions, while only 31% claimed their companies were under a hiring freeze (11.9% didn’t know either way). Perhaps those units that are not hiring, but aren’t under a hiring freeze either, are hiring from within the company—something that can be derived from the fact that 82.9% of respondents claimed they feel as though they have career opportunity within their companies. At the same time, 78.6% of respondents claimed that there were simply no openings in their subrogation unit, which is also a strong reason for a lack of hiring activity.


And now, the statistics you’ve really been waiting for...

When asked, “What’s your favorite classic rock song?,”
34 brave souls stepped up to bat.

Queen emerged as the instant winner for the obvious reasons. Well, three obvious reasons to be exact: “We Will Rock You,” “We are the Champions” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Band Picks

Led Zeppelin and The Eagles gave Queen a run for its money with “Stairway to Heaven” and “Hotel California,” respectively. The Beatles made a good showing with “Hard Day’s Night,” and what would a favorite classic rock song list be without the Rolling Stone’s “Start Me Up”?

A couple wild card entries snuck their way in as well. While “Thriller” and “Rock with You” by Michael Jackson are no doubt great songs, they’re just not classic rock. And while we’re sure that a song called “Will You Love Me Forever?” by Meat Loaf has the potential to be quite lovely, such a song doesn’t exist. But hey, all in good fun, right?

While our typical benchmark studies are a lot more scientific, we enjoyed conducting this light-hearted, yet thought provoking, survey. Not only were we pleased with the results, we met a lot of great people in the process.

Of course, as much as we love to produce industry research and other educational content, we’ve got a day job, too: Praxis is the subrogation recognition and recovery specialist. To see how Praxis can support your efforts, please contact Gina Bradburn!