Auto accident survivors and their families often rely on auto insurance claims to help them pay for property damage, medical expenses, and rehabilitation costs. Victims and their families speak to their insurers believing that the person on the other end of the line is listening to their story and evaluating their claim in a manner that is reasonable and in accordance with the law. Yet, what many car accident survivors in Minneapolis may not know is that computer software may be evaluating their personal injury claim. The effects of this software on the outcome of a given claim can be immense.
Up until recently, insurance claim settlement and adjustment was a very personalized process, with an adjuster sometimes taking the time to meet with accident victims and their families to ensure that they received the settlement they deserved. Yet, today, modern insurance companies rely on computer programs that often create complex models to settle and adjust claims. According to the Post and Courier, one of the main programs insurance companies use to evaluate claims is a piece of software called Colossus. The program was developed to help insurance companies defray the cost of hiring insurance adjusters. Adjusters would often have to spend long periods of time investigating claims, looking into a person’s career, injuries, and other factors to determine the impact of an injury and long-term losses. Personal differences sometimes played a large role in the settlement that a given adjuster would make. One estimate suggests that before computer programs, adjuster’s settlements could vary by as much as 80 percent. Colossus was designed with the intention of performing insurance adjustment to the caliber of top adjusters. 700 different questions and 600 different codes are used to evaluate claims using the program. These codes include information about the severity of injuries, types of injuries, and ways in which individuals experience loss of enjoyment of life.
While Colossus initially helped streamline the claims process, insurers began to use the software to reduce payouts to those making claims. Adjusters began to “fine tune” the software algorithms to save the insurance companies money. Human adjusters would determine a payout using old methods and then the software would be altered to reduce payouts by as much as 20%, the Post and Courier reports. In some cases, the programs would omit high injury settlements in order to lower the average payout amounts.
To make matters worse, companies sometimes trained adjusters to counsel accident victims against hiring personal injury lawyers, and these same adjusters would take longer periods to settle claims to put increased financial pressure on accident victims—making it more likely that they would settle.
One of the former employees for Colossus wrote a paper about the impact of the software. The paper shows the ways in which Colossus saves insurance companies money by paying out less to individuals who file bodily injury claims.
Few individuals filing insurance claims know about Colossus or about how computer programs can affect their claims. While companies are required to disclose whether they use Colossus or other similar programs, not all accident victims know to ask.
If you’re been injured in a car accident in Minneapolis, Minnesota and are making an insurance claim, having a lawyer on your side can make an immense impact in the outcome of your claim. The Law Office of Martin T. Montilino is a personal injury law firm that assists clients through all aspects of the claims process. If you’re concerned that your claim isn’t sufficient, contact us today to learn more.