Over the past ten years, emails have taken over. Particularly in claims litigation, emails are generated by attorneys and claims professionals faster than an assembly line at a factory. What was once thought to be a technological innovation has now become so problematic that it compromises claims professionals’ abilities to fulfill their duties. It is not unusual to hear that a litigation adjuster is over 250 emails behind.
Attorneys routinely send adjusters fifteen-page reports outlining the case in a storybook format. They send emails with dozens of routine pleadings and discovery attached, and they supplement that information with two-page status updates outlining the routine developments. To make matters worse, adjusters often have to memorialize and save that information in one or even two internal claims journals to enable their supervisors to access the information. If that was not enough, 90 percent of the information contained in these time-crushing emails consists of routine communication or legal work that occurs in nearly every case.
How can the adjusters find the information they need in an e-mail subfolder? When can the adjuster find time to critically think about the case?
Communication by email must stop.
The Right Technology
While is it undeniable that technological innovations such as email can create problems, failing to integrate the right technology is equally problematic. Although insurers have massive storage systems to store all of the critical information for each claim, they have not found a way to make the information readily accessible.
Facebook is a perfect example to demonstrate the difference between storing information and organizing it in an efficient and useful manner. Imagine if you still received all of the information from Facebook you currently do. However, instead of visiting Facebook to quickly locate the interesting updates, you email each friend, save the responses in your inbox and possibly elsewhere, and respond to each email with additional questions. Facebook not only stores the information, it organizes and maintains it in one central place so you can obtain it at your convenience. Although claims handlers use software tools like Facebook to communicate with their friends, insurers have not implemented software strategies to enhance their ability to efficiently handle claims litigation.
Project Management Software
Litigation project management software is the solution to the communication epidemic. As noted above, this problem cannot be solved by simply storing the information. This problem can be solved by hiding the routine and irrelevant information, organizing the important information, and incorporating it into a single web-based hub for maximum efficiency. For years, other industries have taken best practices from their best performers and turned them into software-based project management applications. Instead of initiating a case or a project by only identifying the problem, many industries use project management software to embed potential solutions into their strategies. As developments occur, individuals in those industries do not send incessant communications about them, they update their software platform to ensure that all future courses of action seamlessly integrate that development. The end result is a program that asks only the most relevant questions, obtains only the most the relevant information, organizes it in a way that anyone can use the system to obtain the desired result, and, for routine issues, replaces humans with automated software solutions. Further, it provides one location for all of this information so anyone can instantly review the status of the case.
Although every claim is different, 90 percent of the critical evaluation is the same. For every claim, the same questions must be asked, and each of those questions needs an answer. Instead of emailing those answers in story form and hiding them in folders filled with dozens of emails with similarly relevant information, insurers must consolidate these questions, answers, and resulting recommendations by organizing them, automating them and placing them into a central, web-based hub. This will result in quicker, cheaper and better litigation outcomes.
Todd is the founding shareholder of Todd Legal, P.A. located in Tampa, Fla. Todd offers his clients legal project management and document solutions that result in faster, better and cheaper outcomes. He is also the writer and creator of the First Party Property Insurance Blog and a frequent blogger for Claims Journal. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: (813) 513-5440.
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