Yesterday we discussed how lawsuit abuse and delay helps the insurance companies’ bottom line. Some insurance companies squeeze additional profits out of the car insurance business by removing the "person" from "personal injury."
There are some car insurance companies, such as Allstate and Farmers, that have taken the human element out of claims handling, preferring to rely on a computer instead. Known as Colossus®, it is touted as "the insurance industry’s leading expert system for assisting adjusters in the evaluation of bodily injury claims."
In these cases, the adjusters, insurance defense lawyers and claims handlers have NO SAY in the amount of settlement. If the cases does not settle, then the file is sent to their lawyers. These typically smaller cases often clog the court dockets. The insurance companies know that it is expensive to properly try a case in court, the results are not guaranteed and the injured victim will have to pay her lawyer from the modest verdict in a modest injury case. While the insurance company may get hit with a large verdict from time to time by a law form willing to spend the time, effort and money to try the case, the insurance companies have done the math. They will settle many smaller cases for pennies, others will quit, give up or go to a volume practice and get a judgment less than the offer. To these insurance companies, this is a profitable model. They can hire people with no experience or training, since the computer tells them the extent of their authority. All these insurance company employees get to do is input data in the boxes. Gone are the days where insurance company adjusters actually left their offices (or cubicles now), investigated their cases, met with injured victims, witnesses, took live statements and visited the "scene of the crash." They now have caseloads of hundreds of files, and are "graded" on how much money they save the insurance company.
The computer tells the inexperienced adjuster how little to pay on a "take it or leave it" basis, as Virginia has almost no effective insurance bad faith law with which to correct unjust insurance bodily injury claims practices. Virginia citizens should demand personal service. Just as human beings help us to select the insurance to protect our families and ourselves, actual persons should help us to negotiate and resolve our personal injury claims in good faith. Otherwise, the Courts of Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties will be flooded with cases of "low ball offers" from Allstate and other carriers’ use of the Colossus computer in personal injury cases.