30 May More Dollars, Less Time: Inside Story on Fleet Response Success in Subrogation
The concept of subrogation is simple – an insurance carrier or self-insured company can recover losses due to damages by collecting funds from the legally liable party. But actually, collecting on those losses is not so simple. It can involve layers of bureaucracy, negotiations, voicemails, roadblocks, arbitration, and a lot of time — often with varying success.
In this challenging field, Fleet Response has earned a reputation as an industry leader in vehicle claims subrogation. We interviewed three Fleet Response subrogation specialists to learn the “secret sauce” that drives their team to recover more dollars in a shorter cycle of time – creating big wins for their clients.
“We take full ownership of a claim from start to finish – for a shorter cycle time”
Fleet Response has created a unique approach to subrogation. It’s much different from the one-size-fits-all process used by larger high-volume insurance companies where multiple people pass a claim down a production line from one department to the next.
Instead, Fleet Response uses a faster, more efficient model — where a subrogation specialist is assigned a claim and sees it from start to finish, taking full ownership in a “one-touch” file handling system. This streamlines the entire subrogation process and is one of the key factors in Fleet Response’s success in recovering as much money for clients as possible, as quickly as possible.
“Fleet Response takes a very intimate approach to the large, self-insured clients we serve,” explains Charles Behm, a subrogation specialist with the company. “Our primary work may be recovering the cost of repairs, but we’re more like the aunt who comes over to visit, but then she folds your laundry and sweeps your floor. We do the little things to make the process easier. Our self-insured clients don’t have expertise in recovering damages – they’re experts in their own industries. They may get a reduced offer or payment on their damages without reason. But we come in and say ‘How about getting 100% of your damages, plus supports for any reductions on payment – and we handle the whole process for you, including collecting required costs that most insurance carrier aren’t aware that they owe?'”
Focusing on each individual claim allows Fleet Response to tailor the subrogation process to exactly what a client wants and needs.
Jeff Butler has been a subrogation specialist with Fleet Response for the past 10 years and says self-insured clients appreciate being given unique and individualized service. “We have some clients who want quarterly or even monthly meetings to discuss how we’re handling their claims, while others just trust us to do what we do. With new clients, they want to know ‘how the sausage is made,’ and we have to no problem explaining what we do.”
“We maximize recovery dollars by looking beyond a vehicle’s physical damage”
In subrogation, there are often losses beyond physical damage that can be recovered, such as loss of use, diminished value, rental charges, and loss of revenues – but those must be identified and pursued.
Fleet Response subrogation specialists know how to do just that, often working with self-insured clients that have unique situations – from medical labs with specialized vehicles used to transport human tissue and organs to rental vehicle businesses where accidents require tracking down multiple responsible parties.
“Our clients are often entitled to compensation for out-of-pocket expenses, loss of revenue and loss of use, so we go after it,” says Butler. “And if they experience a loss of value to their vehicle, we pursue diminishment of value. In many cases, we’re very successful with it.”
“We take personal pride in our work – and love the thrill of the hunt!”
The Fleet Response subrogation team is very success-oriented – driven by personal pride and a competitive spirit. They see themselves as advocates for their clients and thrive on boosting their “personal best” every month. The team as a whole sets internal collection goals they’ve consistently met for the past 10 years.
Lisa Bauman worked in customer service and collections for decades. Five years ago, she joined Paragon Subrogation, now part of Fleet Response. Working mainly with insurance carriers trying to recover losses from claims paid out, she recently moved into a lead role. Bauman loves her job because every day is different. “I consider myself a problem-solver, analyzing an accident claim, finding out if there is insurance, collecting documents and sending paperwork to the insurance company. I find the best and quickest solution for each claim. Follow-up is critical – so that the insurance carrier has all the info they need to do their job quicker.”
Bauman competes against herself but gets a kick out of competing against co-workers. “A lot of us do it – it’s like a carrot right in front of us. ‘Just a little bit more’ makes it fun. I’m very competitive and try to surpass my highest number every month. It’s a lot of work but I see how much I’ve improved. When I started out, I collected about $40,000 a month for clients. Last month I collected over $170,000. Since I’m training new hires now, I pass on my knowledge.”
Fleet Response clients are the ultimate winners – as team members bring their skills and savvy to the game of maximizing recovery dollars. As a 6’6”, 275-pound body builder, Behm likes the competitive nature of the win and zeroing in on a target. Once he identifies an area of weakness in negotiations, he capitalizes on it to increase the recovery amount for his client. He enjoys the work and finds it has become a passion for him.
“We all take our work personally,” says Butler. “In working with self-insured companies, we find that a lot of times the insurance companies involved are looking for any excuse to pay almost nothing. They try to chip off anything they can, but we’ve built up a catalog of responses to the common chipping we hear in the industry. We don’t just take their excuses and move along – we’re going to argue back. When we actually win, that’s a really good feeling. We joke that one of our specialists, Ben, is a machine – he gets claims paid before the accident, he’s that good! We have a running bet in our Teams group about who can beat him,” he says with a laugh.
“We use tricks of the trade that work”
The Fleet Response subrogation team has learned how to navigate the worlds of insurance and auto repairs – because they know all aspects of both. This demands not only technical knowledge but communication savvy.
One of the biggest challenges in working for self-insured clients is getting responses from insurance company agents who say they’re too busy to review a claim or simply don’t answer phone calls or voicemails. It demands creative persistence, and often getting past gatekeepers.
While the team focuses on proper and timely processes that work – they’ve learned tricks of the trade to recover maximum funds and get payments faster for their clients.
“For example, if I’m not getting a response from their claims department, I’ll just press zero to get customer service or an operator,” says Behm. “I ask for the claims supervisor, not the agent. And if I’m still not getting a response, I’ll call their insured to tell them I’m getting no answers on their claim. When they hear they may be personally at risk, they can light a fire by calling the insurance company themselves. It’s all legal and ethical – and it gets attention to their claim.”
It may be surprising, but Bauman considers empathy an essential tool in decreasing cycle time to collect payments. “When I’m trying to recover funds from a person without insurance, I put myself in their shoes. I need to listen and hear what they’re going through. It could be a young adult who thought they were still on their parents’ insurance or someone who didn’t get their bill paid and the insurance got cancelled. We look for solutions and offer a payment plan over months or years or suggest a loan from their bank to pay us off and then make a longer payment plan with their bank. We don’t want people to lose their house by making payments to fix a car! But they need to understand – they have to make a payment. We have good success with payment plans.”
As another creative tool to increase reimbursements for clients (both self-insured and the insurance carriers), Fleet Response hired support staff to handle administrative tasks so subrogation specialists can focus on phone calls and negotiations, making the most of their time and expertise in resolving claims for the client.
“We have a great culture that starts at the top”
The Fleet Response culture breeds success (and happiness) in the workplace – and happy employees are more productive for the clients.
Butler had worked in salvage and subrogation for a large national insurance company for 15 years but felt like a number on a spreadsheet and “micromanaged” by supervisors. In sharp contrast, he sees the culture at Fleet Response boosting both morale and efficiency.
“It’s completely different here. I’m left to do my job like an adult. I actually work harder than I did for my previous employer. It really is a great culture, and it starts at the top with our CEO. He sincerely cares about his employees and bends over backwards for them. It’s good being part of a team like this and watching the company grow. In my first few years we collected $3 million in a month for the first time. Now we collect that much in the first week of the month!”
Behm describes Fleet Response as a company that attracts friendly, hardworking people who want to be on a team. “We look forward to coming to work and we’re here to protect our clients. We kind of take a tough guy attitude because the big insurance carriers will push the little guys around. If we don’t agree with them, we aren’t afraid to say we will take it to arbitration and get the full amount. At Fleet Response we understand the complete insurance process, from adjusting to liability to arbitration. We do it all on a day by day, touch by touch basis – then we hound and we hound till we get answers. That shortens the cycle time for our client – and we know exactly what they will try to knock down off the cost and how to respond.”
Clients are the winners
The skills and dedication of the Fleet Response subrogation team are all in place to serve clients – to increase their recovery from losses and to speed up payments. These are the two biggest problems facing insurance carriers and self-insured companies that have already paid out for claims and are seeking reimbursement.
Fleet Response delivers a clear advantage by:
- taking full ownership of a claim from start to finish
- maximizing recovery dollars beyond a vehicle’s physical damage
- taking personal pride in the work – and loving the thrill of the hunt
- using tricks of the trade that work
- having a great culture that starts at the top
Fleet Response is making a difference for clients – with a proven record of success in subrogation. But don’t take our word for it! Give us the opportunity to work on your subrogation claims and improve your reimbursement for losses. Learn more about Fleet Response subrogation management services.