Where’s the Humanity? Balancing Real and Artificial in Pursuit of Subrogation

Where’s the Humanity? Balancing Real and Artificial in Pursuit of Subrogation

  Tuesday, June 25th, 2024  Dan D'Imperio   National Subrogation Services

For many, everyday life now consists of smartphones and smart homes, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. There is no doubt that these advancements have brought tangible benefits to individuals and businesses alike, including Property and Casualty insurance companies. Within the P & C world, claim departments and third-party administrators have fully embraced the use of technology to gain efficiencies and improve results. And with good reason – it’s a powerful tool. But in the claims and subrogation world, reliance (or over-reliance) on technology as the magic elixir to cure all ills does have its perils.

As a new generation of adjusters and claim professionals enter the industry, the formalized classroom and field training that existed in my early claims career have fallen away. I wonder if new reps are receiving the training they need, or if they are instructed to do what the system or App says to do, absent the foundational footing needed to understand the tech’s directions or to question a funky directive? (I am reminded of a comedy show where a driver blindly follows the GPS directions straight into a pond.) Over-dependence on technology can result in the loss of key subrogation skills including negotiating, liability assessment, and/or identifying the “out of the box” theory/approach that helps secure that outcome that you brag about at social events. All experienced subrogation analysts have those one or two successful recoveries that defy logic. Whether it was a fire spread theory, negligent landscaping allegations, identifying improper security procedures, or something else, your “gut” pointed you in the right direction. Does technology do the same on those unique claims?

I confess that I am a huge techie geek. My boss once told me he considers me the Chief Technology Officer (unpaid title, of course) of NSS. I am a major fan of IT. Two experiences, though, inspired this article. First, when speaking to a third-party claim rep (on a personal claim matter), I learned the rep was not familiar with the purpose of a release. That same day, my colleague had a conversation with a potential client who informed him that several of her claim reps were unfamiliar with liability principles. Although subrogation potential can be identified in obvious instances such as the insured’s vehicle being struck from behind or a water failure due to a recently installed appliance, successful subrogation programs are grounded in claim professionals who have the ability and experience to look beyond the obvious to reveal a theory that offers a chance at subrogation. I sound very aged when I wax nostalgic about “the old days in claims,” but 30 years ago, claim reps had to “do” claims work without help from IT. If they did not know the answer, they asked a question. I am concerned that a “processing” mentality will overtake quality investigative practices.

In today’s remote world, asking a question of your co-worker over the partition is all but non-existent. You never “hear” others talking about claims anymore. At NSS, we try to maintain the regular interaction among our employees. We still hold the old-fashioned claim roundtable discussions (albeit with the aid of our laptop cameras) so that our analysts get input from others.

Like I said earlier, I love tech. Here at NSS, we fully embrace the need for Predictive Analytics with our SubroSpeed™ platform. We collaborate with our clients to get daily loss runs and data feeds, build document retrieval bots and in-system accelerators. However, we balance that with an experienced team of recovery analysts. Our team members average more than 15 years of claims/subrogation experience. We promote critical thinking skills.

NSS will celebrate its 25thanniversary in March 2025. Over that time, we have adapted from working in the paper world to working in the cloud, but with a focus on a balanced approach to maximize results. It is this balanced approach, bridging the old world and the new, that gets us our top-tier results. Our clients know and appreciate this – allowing us to retain their loyalty.

While technology undoubtedly enhances our lives in countless ways, it is essential to approach these tools with caution and mindfulness. By acknowledging the dangers of over-reliance on technology and taking proactive steps to find a balance, we can harness technology’s benefits while maintaining the essential human element. The outcome is “Subro Done Right”.

Dan is responsible for new business development, the NSS predictive analytics platform - SubroSpeed™ and quality assurance. Prior to joining NSS, Dan was the Assistant Vice President for Recovery Services International, an ESIS subsidiary. Dan has over 30 years of property and casualty claims handling and claims management experience including more than 20 years of subrogation experience. Dan has also worked at Royal Insurance as a Claims Manager and Reliance Insurance as a Home Office Consultant. Dan earned his Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation in 1995 and his Associate in Claims (AIC) in 1990.

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