22 Sep Six Essentials Of A High Quality First Notice Of Loss Program
When an employee in a company vehicle reports an accident, the call center’s priority should be to address the immediate safety and health of those involved.
But what happens in the next 10-15 minutes can have a big impact on how much the claim ultimately costs. Here are 6 best practices for handling initial loss communication to minimize cost and manage exposure.
1. Develop metrics to measure process quality.
The real value of initial loss communication is in what it doesn’t cost – whether it’s litigation, liability, excess towing and storage costs, or time out of service for the vehicle itself. Things that don’t happen are hard to measure. But the stakes are high, so it’s important to design a good initial loss communication process, along with appropriate key performance metrics.
“A lot of our clients don’t come in with data from their previous loss-reporting or claims processes,” says Roger Cervenka, Director of Client Services at Fleet Response. “We measure everything, and we give full visibility while we’re doing it. Our clients can see our entire claims system, so the ability to measure is built in.”
2. It’s all about speed.
Information that is not shared promptly can be expensive. From reviewing repair estimates to making an initial subrogation demand, quick communication of information allows more time to manage the uncertainty that surrounds any claim.
“The longer it takes to get information from the call center, the longer it takes the client to get their own resources involved,” Cervenka says. “Our job is to notify the people who need to be involved as fast as possible with the most accurate information that’s known. Any delay on our end can add cost. The sense of urgency to deliver on that is always high, and our clients count on it.”
3. Not all accidents should be treated the same.
Scenario-based notification allows the call center to modify procedures based on the circumstances of an accident. For a one-car fender-bender, an email by the next business day to the fleet-management contact may be enough. A serious injury may mean notifying legal counsel immediately by phone or text message; hazmat officials may be called for a cargo spill. The call center facilitates this by quickly and proactively providing accurate, context-based information.
4. Repair planning begins immediately.
Towing a heavy truck can cost as much as the repair itself. Even for cars and light trucks, you don’t want to tow a vehicle farther than necessary, and you certainly don’t want to tow it twice. Part of the job during the initial loss report is to consider where the vehicle can be taken – ideally to an authorized network repair facility – to minimize towing and storage costs, and facilitate a fast start on repairs.
At Fleet Response, a claims representative is assigned to the file at the moment it’s opened, and processing typically begins on the same day.
5. Subrogation isn’t an afterthought.
The average subrogation case takes about 100 days. Fleet Response shortens that cycle by 25 percent or more by beginning work when a file is opened – rather than waiting until repairs are in progress. Information collected in the initial loss report is evaluated promptly, so additional data needed to make or strengthen the case can be collected right away – while witnesses are easy to find and events are still fresh in their minds.
6. Customize information to support internal processes.
Every company has its own information needs. You should be able to customize the parameters your call center uses when an accident is reported to gather the right data and streamline your own work.
If the company requires a drug test from a driver who’s been in an accident, does your call center schedule it? Some companies need to know when the driver started work; others want to know what division the driver works in.
Certain information, like CDL expiration date, should already be on file and delivered to the call center operator while he or she is taking the initial accident report.
“Client custom reporting processes are everything,” says Christy Jones, Call Center Manager at Fleet Response. “They’re living, breathing document that the client can change.”
Sources: Roger Cervenka, Director of Client Services at Fleet Response; Julie Cravener; Call Center Manager (14 years at Fleet Response); Christy Jones, Call Center Manager (22 years at Fleet Response).