– September 3, 2010
Thank you Rolling Stones for reminding me what sometimes needs to be done to help get the job done better. As claims professionals we are always being stretched to do more with less, and sometimes can never get what we need from our partners in the industry; our hired defense counsel. Getting to the basics of claims management to evaluate losses, setting reserves and moving a case to resolution requires a good partnership with counsel. Given the current economic environment it has never made getting what you need from defense counsel so important.
So if you can’t always get what you want, less files and more staff to help, how do you get what you need to help?
Here is a novel response: Ask for it!
Defense counsel correctly spends much of their time focused on defending their clients. Unfortunately, and all to often, many counsel reports are designed to justify some activity in the invoice rather than providing useful information. Does reporting about sending medical authorization out really provide any valuable analysis to help the claims professional make a reserve or resolution decision?
Getting what you need
So how does one focus counsel to help provide better information for claims? Try these three suggestions to help them help you get better results:
- Educate counsel on the world of claims – Attorneys are great at defending their clients, but many no very little about what goes into a claims professional’s day. When speaking to attorney friends I am often amazed how little they truly know about the day-to-day business of claims. Spend a few minutes telling your counsel about your claim file responsibilities such as reserving, regulatory requirements, documentation and how many files you have, will help the understand your needs better. Even a basic discussion of file counts will enlighten counsel to what it means to have to go through hundreds of correspondence a week while still having to make appropriate decisions.
- Give counsel a clear understanding on what you need to make decisions – If you want counsel to provide damage assessments early in the case, even with limited information, then tell them exactly what you expect and hold them to it. If you don’t want them to put a number on a file until discovery is complete then be clear about that too (although I would not recommend waiting till the end – and we can save that for another blog article). Today’s attorneys are being asked to complete different reports and forms and follow different reporting guidelines for a variety of clients. If you don’t tell them specifically what you need to help you get your job done then you will never get what you need. It may take a little extra time when the case is assigned, however, it will pay dividends down the road with information that will help you make claim decisions better.
- Be persistent – The squeaky wheel always does get the grease. Attorneys I speak to want the interaction with their clients. If counsel doesn’t provide you what you need then call them up and remind them again. Getting what you need requires a little effort and there may be a break in period where they learn exactly what works and what doesn’t. Accepting what has always been is no way to ever get what you really need. So speak up, don’t be shy, and don’t accept what hasn’t worked in the past.
No attorney is going to say that they don’t want to make a claims professional’s job easier, so help them to help you. Start by telling them what you do, ask for what you want, and then make sure they do it.
You may not get what you want all the time, but you will get what you need.