From the October 2011 issue of Claims Magazine •Subscribe!

Speaking Of: Fighting Fraud with Technology With Joe Wehrle, NICB President and CEO

As fraudsters continue to play their games, SIUs must keep up with the new and intricate ways that these scams are carried out. There are more and more questions now being asked of policyholders to ensure that they are telling the truth about their claims, but things can get confusing when thousands of claims follow major catastrophic events such as this summer’s Hurricane Irene.

The NICB continues to improve upon and expand its fraud-fighting methods in various ways. One way is by expanding its online presence in order to keep more people in the know. Claims’ Catherine Couretas spoke with Joe Wehrle, NICB president and CEO, to learn more about the organization’s comprehensive formula for success, which includes a new Interactive Indicator Guide, webinars, and an aggressive social media plan.

Tell me about the Interactive Indicator Guide.
What we’ve done in the past is provide member companies with papers on various types of fraud. They would have to search through these papers to try and find the right questions to ask. Now, we have put everything in an interactive guide, so the information is in one central location rather than in 28 sets of papers. Additionally, the information can now be cross-referenced. More questions are asked based on how previous questions are answered. Someone may encounter a situation and as his or her initial question is answered, another series of questions populate, referencing the person to another type of fraud to consider.

What are the results that members companies are seeing from the use of this system?
I know that it has assisted the speed of access to fraud indicators. Instead of shuffling around papers, it can be downloaded right on the computer. The benefits vary depending on how a company chooses to use the system. Some questions are now being asked earlier rather than later if these claims are being referred directly to the SIU, and some companies grant all employees access to the system. This is beneficial if the employee receiving the initial claim call is not that experienced—he or she will know what basic questions to ask.

Does this compare to systems some insurers may already have in place?
I have a feeling that some companies have their own version of this that they’ve devoted a great deal of time to perfecting them over the years. Some insurers may have just started thinking about creating a similar system, but if they’re members, then the use of our system is already being paid for. Companies can compare systems to find out which one they would prefer to use. We don’t tell members what they have to do, we just say, “Here’s another benefit of membership that you can take advantage of.”

Tell me about the webinars that the NICB will be offering.
We came up with the idea for webinars because we wanted to offer training at a time and place that works best for those receiving the training. It can be difficult for companies to send a large number of employees to another location for training, especially financially. We really wanted to take advantage of new technologies and mobile webinar training because of the convenience. We know we can’t do three-hour sessions, but maybe we can explore the five to 15 minute time frame. For example, we could have a five-minute session on the analysis of vehicle identification numbers (VINs). Maybe there would be one on medical bill review.

How will this transform the training NICB offers?
Each year, we train about 14,000 or 15,000 member company employees, and we also train up to 20,000 law enforcement officials at no charge. Why shouldn’t we provide these webinars as an option for people who may not be able to attend a conference? There are a lot of states out there with regulatory requirements for claims adjusters and insurance agents, so these webinars can help them stay up to date on the latest scams and techniques. It just makes sense.

What else has the NICB been doing to stay on top of the latest technology?
We will begin releasing a quarterly NICB report on our site and on YouTube to make people more aware of what we are doing as an organization. We’re also really excited about having started our own social media plan.

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