Many insurance companies currently use a computer software program called Colossus to evaluate the value of personal injury claims. How Colossus works is a mystery to the general public. Neither the insurance companies nor the developer of Colossus will divulge exactly how they determine their baseline values.
Essentially, this program is a database that evaluates claims based on information entered by the insurance adjuster.
Therefore, the evaluations can only be as good as the information that the adjuster enters into the program.
By utilizing Colossus, most insurance companies will try to artificially lower the value of your claim by plugging in such things as damage to your vehicle, expected length of treatment, expected cost of treatment, and a number of other “objective” variables before determining a value.
The Colossus program will not take into account such factors as the extent of your pain and suffering, the duration of your pain and suffering, how your injuries affect your ability to work and carry on your normal life's activities, your inability to perform certain activities, emotional stress and trauma, how this has affected your relationship with your spouse (loss of consortium), or any number of other factors that a jury would consider.
Perhaps the biggest problem with Colossus is that the insurance adjuster assigned to handle your claim is usually locked into the settlement figure that the program generates. Insurance companies will deny this and will tell anyone who will listen that the program is nothing more than an evaluation tool. The insurance industry claims that the settlement figure generated by Colossus is merely a starting point from which the adjuster can go up if additional facts and circumstances warrant it. This representation is not true: the adjuster has little, if any, room for movement.
Colossus is a well-kept secret of the insurance industry. It is the leading bodily injury claims adjusting software in the world and is being used by an increasingly large number of insurance companies. According to Computer Sciences Corporation, the company that produces Colossus, the software is used by thirteen of the top twenty U.S. property and casualty insurers to minimize variance on similar bodily injury claims. A former Farmer's Insurance employee who left the company to consult for plaintiffs' lawyers estimates that insurance companies are saving from 15 percent to 30 percent on injury claims payouts by using Colossus.
Therefore, in order to increase the value of your case, when dealing with an adjuster who is relying on Colossus, you should consider the following:
• The single most important thing you can do to increase the value of your case is to make sure all of your injuries, complaints, problems, preexisting conditions, pain, depression, anxiety, lost time from work, loss of life's activities, and other relevant information are expressed to your doctors so that all information is recorded in your medical records.
• Be specific in describing your injuries. As a general rule, the more specific you can be, the better. If you cannot perform certain activities, tell your doctor. If you continue to go to work but experience pain, tell your doctor about this as well.
• Gaps in treatment will reduce the value of your case, so be sure to follow up with your doctors on a regular basis. If you do have any interruptions in treatment, be sure you can explain the reasons for these gaps.
• Colossus generally opposes alternative medical treatments, such as acupuncture. If you do seek alternative treatment, make sure that you do so with a doctor's referral.
• Colossus typically values treatment according to time ranges such as one to three months, three months to six months, six months to nine months, and so on. This means that thirty-one days of physical therapy would make a case worth more than thirty days of physical therapy.
• Colossus has other yardsticks for assigning values to the length of treatment. For example, for the first three months, physical therapy visits might be valued at $100 per visit, but in the fourth month, they might be valued at $40 per visit, and by the sixth month, the amount might go down to $10 per visit. If you visit a medical doctor between the third and fourth month, then Colossus might bump the value back up to $100 per visit for the next ninety days.
• Wearing a seat belt helps the value of your motor vehicle accident case. If you were wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident, be sure to tell this to your treating physician so that it appears in your medical records.
Being informed of the methods insurance companies use to attempt to reduce the value of your personal injury case can help you to properly develop your case in an attempt to maximize the amount of money you recover.