– May 25, 2010
There really are better ways to help resolve the dispute
As a claims professional, you know you have cases that will ultimately settle, and can settle, but for some reason or another you just can’t get there. Recently I came across a great blog dedicated to providing different ideas and solutions surrounding the settlement process. Settlement Perspectives, written by John DeGroote, provides insights and “thoughts on how to resolve disputes and get your deal done.”
In a recent article posted on their blog, Lawsuit Settlement: 7 Ways to Get There Faster, Better and Cheaper — The Presentation, John DeGroote gave a few different approaches to help move those difficult cases to settlement. I am sure many of you out there have used one or all of these techniques in trying to get by an impasse, and there are certainly many more techniques that can be employed, regardless the list is a great starting point.
Of the seven suggestions, I like the following three the best:
- Managing Expectations – In his article, Managing Expectations: An Unexpected Lesson on the Bus to Hertz, John gives a great example of his expectations being managed about how long it would take to get to the rental car lot after getting on the airport shuttle bus. Having had his expectation managed, it allowed him to foresee an outcome different than he had anticipated. Settlements are the same, and managing both the clients, as well as those of the opposing party’s, expectations is a great way to help avoid an impasse. Settlements are always a compromise and before entering discussions setting out expectations may avoid problems later.
- Decision Tree Analysis – If you have never worked with a decision tree I strongly recommend you try it. The process itself can be extensively debated, however, as another tool it’s is worth a try. The essential component to the “tree” is trying to place an empirical approach to evaluating and settling a claim. Decisions are raised, values are assigned and an outcome is determined.Once completed, a decision tree is a tool that can be shown to an opposing party to explain the basis for a position being taken. Many will argue the values and measures that you placed on the various “decision” points, but it is a technique that can remove the emotional aspect of a negotiation and demonstrate an objective approach to a decision. You can learn more about using this approach in Decision Tree Analysis in Litigation: The Basics.
- Offers of Judgment – Federal Rule 68, and similar state statutes, imposes a penalty on a party who refuses a reasonable settlement offer. Using this tool is a great way to help move an opposing party to take a long hard look at their case. In Rule 68 and Offers of Judgment, Part I: How They Work and Why You Should Care, John gives another great overview of how these rules can assist in moving a case at impasse. We have all had a case where you know what it’s worth, and know it should be settled, but you just can’t get the opposing party to move. Using an offer of judgment is a way to require the plaintiff to at least respond or suffer various penalties.
Keep being creative to help lower claims expenses
As I previously wrote in Improve bottom-line outcomes on claims by thinking outside-the-box!, being creative is a great way to improve claims handling and lower costs. Trying some of the suggestions above are innovative ways to help resolve claims earlier and lower costs.