Simple but sometimes overlooked negotiation skills can help reduce losses for insurers and other payers who go into subrogation, a pair of subrogation experts said.
By following strategies such as always demanding settlement and building relationships with other claims professionals, insurers and third-party administrators can offset losses with contributions from other entities involved in workers’ compensation, auto and other claims, they said Wednesday during a session at Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.’s Riskworld conference in Atlanta.
Attorneys and other claims professionals should think like a plaintiff’s attorney when involved in subrogation work, says Ashton T. Kirsch, a Hartford, Wis.-based partner at the subrogation law firm Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer SC
“In plaintiff work and subro work, we̵7;re about building a story, creating a narrative,” he said. “We have to think creatively.”
Insurers should always send a claim to the other parties involved, even in cases where their own liability may seem clear, because there may be facts in the case that they are not aware of, Kirsch said.
In one case, for example, he represented an insurer for a truck that was damaged and the driver injured in a collision with a cow, and an investigation found no negligence on the part of the farmer. After a claim is sent to the farmer’s insurer, The admitted responsibility and said a break in a fence was fixed to prevent other animals from escaping before the investigator arrived.
And when negotiating with adjusters, it’s important to build relationships with them rather than just talk about the facts of the case because you’re likely to be involved in other claims with the same adjuster, he said.
On the other hand, if someone on the other side of a negotiation is rude and abrupt, they may use that as a tactic, Kirsch said.
“Don’t take things personally and be very strategic in how you use emotions and understand when you’re exposed to this,” he said.
Subrogation negotiators should also be careful about splitting the difference between settlement offers, says Joey Daryanani, vice president at CSAA Insurance Group in Walnut Creek, Calif.
Unless a negotiator has an offer above the range where he or she thinks they should settle, “you’re leaving money on the table.”
Also, subrogators shouldn’t be afraid to walk away from an initial offer and later try to negotiate a different amount, because the number of cases where the other side drops the initial offer is very small, Daryanani said.