Colossus is a software program used by many insurance companies to determine the value of automobile accident claims and lawsuits. The software program gets a bad rap from plaintiff’s lawyers–probably because it undervalues those claims. Now, a former Allstate and Encompass Colossus expert and a former Texas insurance commissioner are informing the Consumer Federation of America’s latest report, Low Ball: An Insider’s Look at How Some Insurers Can Manipulate Computerized Systems to Broadly Underpay Injury Claims.
That report details the means by which adjusters can use the software to produce lower evaluations of claims. Insurance adjusters can discount medical bills, evaluate injuries differently than doctors, ignore the likelihood of future medical care, and decide that the claimant/victim was partially at fault for the auto collision.
It sounds like the report is concerned that insurance adjusters might be doing their job.
Don’t get me wrong–I dislike the stupid “back-and-forth” process of negotiating claims with insurance companies as much as the next guy. In a recent GEICO case, for example, I went through three different adjusters. The Junior Adjuster negotiates with me to an offer that represents his “final, highest offer.” It’s not enough, and it’s not fair, so I file a lawsuit. The Intermediate Adjuster then gives me another offer, and tells me she can’t go any higher. So, I continue on, preparing for trial by working on discovery. Then, a week before the trial, Senior Adjuster calls me up, with (you guessed it) another final offer (and, the scent of desperation). In that case, the last “final offer” was just a tiny bit behind what was my first, and unchanging, demand (GEICO hates it when you don’t give them counterdemands). My client was happy with that, so we resolved it. If the insurance company would have just offered that from the beginning, they could have avoided paying a defense lawyer. Basically, they lost out on this deal. But, they only operate like this because they win so many other times–many lawyers are afraid to go to trial, and they will accept these “low ball” offers.
The job of insurance companies is to make money for their shareholders. They will do this by hook or crook. Some insurance companies are more unreasonable than others. If they want, they can refuse to pay more than $1.00 for every single claim. That’s why we have auto accident trials.
Here’s why Colossus is completely irrelevant: Maryland auto accident victims who have a trial attorney advocating on their behalf will not accept low ball offers. Whether the insurance adjuster uses a computer program, their own education and experience, or a Ouja board to determine the value of a personal injury case, the reality is that a lawyer should make an independent decision, and advise the client accordingly. Colossus is not artificial intelligence–it is a tool used to help insurance companies determine the value of personal injury claim. If they want to cheat the software, they can. If they want to ignore medical records, they can.
But we don’t have to accept these offers. The insurance companies keep offering low settlements because some lawyers do accept them. If an insurance company’s adjuster gives a low offer and claims that “Colossus made me do it,” then teach Colossus a lesson–file a lawsuit. The judge and jury won’t care (and won’t be allowed to hear) about what Colossus thinks of your case.
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