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3 Ways to Make Your Claim Notes Better

Writing Shouldn’t Be a Chore

Recently I have been spending a lot of time auditing claim files.  It’s really a great exercise to review files, and an important part of well-run claims organization.  One thing that continues to amaze me is the number of files that have poor documentation.  Writing good claim file notes are an important part of handling a claim file. Claim notes record the history of what is going on in addition to the reasoning behind claims decisions.  Good claim notes tell a story.

For some reason, putting notes in a file has turned into a painful exercise for many claims professionals. I am not sure why this has happened, but maybe it’s because of added pressure to document files – the dotting of the “i” mentality – or maybe it’s increasing file loads. Either way, good claim notations have suffered.

I am a big advocate that claim notes do not need to be treatises on what has taken place.  There should be no reason to write paragraphs and paragraphs to explain events when a sentence or two will do. You are a claims PROFESSIONAL and are being paid for your professional abilities to summarize and analyze the facts.  Be brief and get to the point and you will find notes will be easier to write and certainly easier to read.

Write Better Notes with These 3 Suggestions

  • Reserve Notes: When reviewing a reserve, and certainly when changing a reserve, a brief note should be put in the file explaining the reasoning behind the reserve. There is no need to write a book, rather simply state “I have changed the reserve to $10,000 because we received new information about medical treatment that had not been considered.”  A good note will explain the action taken in 2 to 3 sentences.
  • Speak English: I know this seems like a silly statement, but I have often read claim notes that are so full of abbreviations that it would be impossible for anyone to know what was being said except for the author.  Does this type of note make sense?

49 year old Private Bar Attendant who sustained injury to her RUE subsequent to her U&C duties on a CT basis.Rcv’d ltr from DA re EE dcsn 2 c new MD. Have been advised that clmnt no longer has TPD but is now a PPD.

  • Plans of Action: Before you get into your car I am fairly certain you know where you are going to go and how you are going to get there.  When you look at a claim file the same should be true. Every file should have a direction, a plan, a way to get from point “a” to point “b”.  A concise plan of action describing the next steps and plans to bring the claim to a conclusion should be a regular part of your note taking habits.

There are certainly more ways to improve notes. Regardless, these three establish a foundation to improving your ability to properly document all that great work you do.

Are There Any Other Suggestions To Improve File Notes?

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2 Responses

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  1. Dana Micklos says

    Good article.

    When I audit or review claim notes I look for a action plans that not only include how the file is going to get from point A to point B, but I also look for time frames with goals, reserve outlines, communication with insured, goals, and supervisor notes.

    I want to see that the files are moving towards closure with established goals and the staff is using the diary system. Too often files sit idle and this affects closing ratios. Also, the longer a file is open the more expensive it becomes.

    Reserves must be clearly outlined. Insureds, brokers, and auditors are watching reserves and the claim staff must be able to define each dollar. It doesn’t have to be a book, but they should explain the reserves and expenses. If there’s a reserve change then there must be an updated action plan.

    Communication with the insured is a key element to a file. It’s also important because when the files are discussed at claim reviews there shouldn’t be any surprises. The insured should be aware of their claims and reserves at all times.

    Management oversight must be documented in claim notes. The staff handling the files need support and direction.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. How Important Are Claims Notes? « davidcorp linked to this post on May 12, 2011

    […] post on The Claims SPOT blog yesterday, entitled “3 Ways to Make Your Claims Notes Better”.  How many of us who are in the claims handling business actually think about the quality of our file […]



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