Walt Disney once said: “All of our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”
With a new year upon us, 2016 can be the year that some of these dreams come to fruition.
According to experts, the most popular resolutions of losing weight, finding a mate, or being a better person last an average of three weeks. But what about making resolutions that you can stick to because they will have a big financial impact on your bottom line?
This year is a new book with 365 pages upon which to write the future. Perhaps the best place to start is with improving revenues in an increasingly challenging economy. Better yet, how about picking resolutions that are destined to generate money without requiring an investment of new funds?
While this may sound too good to be true, the reality is there are 16 simple resolutions that are guaranteed to have a significant impact on your company's bottom line.
Read on for the full list.
1. Go for the gold
Finding free loot is always a favorite of mine! According to government records, there is $35 billion in unclaimed funds owed to individuals and businesses. You can search for your own personal goldmine at www.unclaimed.org.
2. Show me the money!
How about finding money for your claims organization?
Did you know that 15% of all claims are closed with a missed subrogation opportunity?
There are key steps that can be taken to ensure that adjusters are proactively identifying recoveries during the course of the claim. There are also some reactive steps that can be taken by capturing critical data points that have a high probability of identifying these missed opportunities on closed files.
A simple place to start in the auto insurance sector is the identification of paid collision features with no associated property damage payments.
3. Leverage technology
Did you know that only 3% of claims are closed with a comparative negligence assessment?
According to Jury Verdict Reporter, more than half of all claims adjudicated involve intersections, slip and falls, and other scenarios where shared liability is likely to be assessed by a jury.
By leveraging technology and training, organizations can add significantly to their bottom line through improved comparative negligence recognition and assessment.
4. Take a chance
How about trying something new? Kick the status quo to the curb!
Take a look at your business processes and figure out what can be done to shake things up. Change is a good thing. Like death and taxes, it is also a certainty. Even though people are creatures of habit, a little disruption can go a long way towards gaining a competitive advantage. So don’t wait for the change; be the change.
Use 2016 as the catalyst to take your claims organization from ordinary to extraordinary. The most successful organizations in any industry are the facilitators of change. As Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) in "Caddyshack" so eloquently put it, “Just be the ball.”
5. Explore social media
Take business networking to a new level. Facebook, Plaxo, and LinkedIn are all great places to leverage for both personal and professional information. Consider these 33 ways to use LinkedIn to grow your business.
6. Get SMART
Set SMART goals. Metrics need to be defined with the following five aspects:
Specific. Rather than “improve subrogation,” the goal should be set to a specific outcome such as a 10% improvement in subrogation recoveries over the prior year.
Measureable. Organizations must have an objective rather than subjective mechanism for accurately measuring metrics. For instance, it is often assumed that there is a lot of insurance fraud in Miami, but what if you could actually measure and track exactly where there is real fraud in Miami or any other venue by using industry data?
Attainable. Goals should be realistic. As previously mentioned, the industry average rate of comparative assessment is 3%. By leveraging key technology, such as ClaimIQ, users typically find attainable results of 15 to 25 percent comparative negligence assessment, depending on jurisdiction and level of expertise. While not suggesting that this is an attainable goal overnight, it is realistic for those who make the decision to leverage proven technology to drive long-term results.
Relevant. Metrics should be relevant to the position. For example, putting salvage disposition in a subrogation adjuster performance evaluation may not be relevant to the job function. This holds true across the claims organization where a myriad of processes are measured. The key to success is to ensure the right metrics are applied to the right positions.
Time bound. Again, specificity is critical to outcomes. Rather than saying we need to reduce BI severities, it should be phrased that we need to reduce leakage in BI evaluations by the end of the year by a specific percentage. The key to success lies with implementing a method of identifying the leakage through proven medical bill audits and injury evaluation decision support tools that address benchmark medical pricing, relatedness and duration of treatment coupled with deceptive practices such as upcoding, unbundling or modifier abuse, causation, severity, venue specificity and negotiation improvement.
7. Follow transformers
Look for others who can show us something we don’t already know! Often looking outside of one’s industry can provide a wealth of ideas to raise the bar. Look to companies such as Samsung, Southwest, Amazon, Verizon, Toyota or Apple to see how these companies have transformed entire industries.
8. Don't try to reinvent the wheel
Of course, once the bar has been raised, it becomes par for the course to emulate success. Certainly copying is a form of flattery and at times it may work, but doesn’t it stand to reason that those who have already raised the bar once will simply do it again? So rather than simply playing catch up, take the risks necessary to guide your organization into the lead.
9. Refine hiring practices
People are the core of any organization — claims or otherwise.
The caveat is that the right people become our greatest assets, the wrong people our greatest challenges.
While people are critical to outcomes, industry supremacy will not come from people alone! The key is to develop critical qualities that define your best and brightest and then use a combination of hiring strategies and personality testing to bring the right people into your organization, and more importantly, retain them.
10. Process fundamentals
There is a reason that football teams punch the ball up the middle more frequently than any other play; because it works. A quick handoff to the running back is the surest way to get yards. It is not fancy, it is not glamorous, but it works. Sure, teams will mix it up, but at the end of the day it is fundamental strategy that gets the job done.
The same can be said in claims organizations where the basics are often forsaken with the hopes that technology will be the savior. Can technology help? Yes. Can it replace fundamentals? No. It takes a combination of people, processes and technology to drive improved accuracies and outcomes.
Technology improves results based on its execution by personnel. Consider the billions of uncollected dollars as the result of improper liability assessments and missed subrogation opportunities. People need to be the front line; process improvement and efficiency comprise the playbook. Technology will just make them better.
11. Embrace innovation
This becomes the key differentiator among organizations that effectively block and tackle.
Technology allows adjusters to be more productive and efficient, ultimately improving claims accuracies while reducing expenses.
Consider the simple act of reviewing an attorney demand. A well-schooled adjuster may be able to identify deceptive billing practices, such as upcoding or unbundling. But this takes time and adjusters are busy. Leveraging technology to do the heavy lifting allows them to more effectively push claims to closure in a shorter period of time.
12. Keep your eye on the ball
Focus on the important things throughout the year and chances are your results will improve significantly. Distractions in claims organizations abound and too often it’s easier to take the path of least resistance.
13. Have fun
There is nothing worse than an organization that sucks the fun out of life.
At their core, claims organizations provide a difficult working environment. From customers who may not be happy to shareholders demanding better results, it’s the claims personnel who often receive their ire. After all, we spend the money.
Creating a positive environment may seem challenging, but with the right team it can be accomplished very effectively.
14. Get out the crystal ball
Look to 2020.
I once had boss who encouraged me to look well into the future. His mantra was that we had people to handle today’s tactical work and our job as claims leaders was to look strategically years into the future.
What will the world of claims look like in five years? How will factors like telemetrics, glassware and even flying cars change the landscape of insurance claims? How will we use our knowledge of what is to come to gain a competitive advantage?
15. Place nicely with others
Leverage business partners with a proven record of success. True success takes a myriad of partnerships with those who have access to a wealth of resources and best practices that can assist claims executives in driving execution and outcomes.
16. Write a book
Life is full of experiences, and putting a pen to paper is a great way to capture them.
Be it fact or fiction, everyone has a great story to tell. I set this goal a few years ago, and try to renew it each year.
The book I wrote last year, "Swoop & Squat," was my first foray into fiction, introducing insurance claims investigator Jake McFarland to a wide variety of audiences, both in and out of the insurance industry. This year’s goal is to complete the sequel, "Seven Days of Jihad," in what will ultimately be “The Adjuster” series of books.
With a new year upon us, now is the time to exhibit the courage to pursue dreams and make 2016 the happiest, healthiest and most prosperous year ever!
Christopher Tidball is a casualty claims consultant, industry veteran and author of multiple books, including "Re-Adjusted: 20 Essential Rules to Take Your Claims Organization From Ordinary to Extraordinary."