• Duties breached: Which duties were
breached? By whom? To what degree?
• What is the importance of each duty?
Is yielding right of way more important than proper lookout? Invariably
the answer would be yes, and the degree of breach for the insured making
the turn would have a great bearing
• Point of impact: If the claimant is in
the furthest left of three lanes and the
insured has successfully crossed the
first two lanes, shouldn’t the claimant
have seen them? Did they take evasive
action? Was the point of impact to the
insured’s front or rear? All of this plays
a pivotal role in the outcome.
When determining the outcome, there
are only three possibilities:
• The insured was at fault
• Another party was at fault
• There was shared fault among two or
Far too often claims adjusters select
either option A or B. Juries more often
than not choose C, and apportion liabil-
In this example, the insured certainly
owes a greater duty as he or she was making the turn. However, the claimant owes
certain duties as well that may have been
breached. Rarely is a left turn accident
solely the fault of one party. This holds true
in many other claim scenarios as well.
Beyond the liability aspect of the claim
are implications for damages. If an adjuster holds that their insured is 100% at
fault, they are likely to pay 100% of the
damages of the other party. This can be
a significant source of leakage. By getting
an accurate liability assessment, carriers
are more likely to have an accurate bodily
injury settlement as the result of proper
apportionment of liability.
Calibrating your organization
Apportioning liability correctly can seem
overwhelming. While there are tools to
help with this process, the reality is that
nothing beats good old-fashioned exper-
tise. Teach your adjusters how to properly
assess liability with a detailed write-up on
duties owed and breached so that anyone
reviewing the claim file will understand
how they arrived at their decisions.
Again, this is easier said than done.
One of the greatest challenges facing the
insurance industry is consistency, and it
becomes even more so when there is an
element of subjectivity. After all, who is
to say if the accident liability was 50/50
Herein lies the challenge, as a 10% dif-
ferential in liability assessments is not
necessarily the concern, but having clear
comparative losses settled as absolute is.
When reviewing internal data, it is crit-
ical to not only identify the frequency
with which comparative is assessed, but
to conduct calibration exercises to ensure
that staff understands and uniformly ap-
plies the proper application of jurisdic-
tional laws and general duties owed.
This can have a profound impact on
recovery potential as well. If subrogation
is being missed, money is left on the ta-
ble. Extrapolate a few hundred dollars
in leakage across a significant portion of
claims, and the numbers can grow expo-
nentially. Among the most successful car-
riers, this problem has become evident,
and many have begun utilizing analytics
tuned to identify opportunities for which
algorithms can drive adjuster behavior.
This type of process that blends people,
processes and technology allows for cali-
bration. In the world of insurance claims,
it accomplishes the ever-elusive goal of
With calibration that leads to consistency, the result is the exceptional organization. As American football coach
Vince Lombardi once said, “Perfection
isn’t attainable, but if we chase perfection,
we can catch excellence,” which should be
everyone’s ultimate goal.
Christopher Tidball (chris.tidball@
exlservice.com) is vice president of sales
and claims transformation strategies
with EXL, a global leader in analytics,
operations management and claims
platforms. He has spent more than 25
years with leading insurance in various
adjusting, management and leadership
roles and is the author of multiple claims-related books and articles.
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