Most injury lawyers need to know and understand Colossus. The settlement value of their cases depends on it.
What is Colossus? Colossus is a computer program many major insurance companies use to evaluate injury and accident claims. For the uninitiated, most accident attorneys will eventually write a demand letter to a negligent party’s insurance company to potentially settle the case. The demand letter typically includes information as to how the accident happened, the medical treatment required, an analysis of any lost wages or other expenses the victim occurred, and explains any symptoms the victim had or continues to have. The demand letter usually also attaches relevant medical records, accident reports, lost wage statements, photographs, and any other information that may be relevant. From there, the insurance company will evaluate the claim, decide what, if anything it may be willing to settle the case for, and negotiations typically ensue between the insurance company and the victim’s attorney, ending in either a settlement or a lawsuit.
So how does Colossus come in? Easy. You want your demand letter to result in the highest possible settlement offer from the insurance company. Many insurance companies use Colossus to decide what to offer. In the old days, an insurance adjuster would read the demand letter, and use his/her years of experience and training to evaluate the claim. While insurance companies still use adjusters, the adjuster is usually a slave to this computer program – Colossus. The adjuster will type in certain things, and answer certain questions in the computer to determine the potential settlement range.
The question is, what do they put into the computer? What will the computer want to know? How can I explain things to get the computer to understand my client’s injuries and damages?
I am going to a seminar in Atlanta this month to learn more about this. Hopefully when I get back I will be able to add some great tips about dealing with this monster. In the meantime, I’ve linked to some of the best articles I’ve read about how to manage Colossus. There are great tips in the articles… every PI attorney should read these immediately!
What companies use Colossus? Here’s one list I found:
· Aetna · Allstate (since 1997) · American National Property and Casualty (since 1997 in 38 states) · American Family Group of
Madison (since 1996) · Arrow Claims Management (since 1997) · AXA Insurance (based in UK, one of the world’s largest insurance group) (2001) · Bishopsgate Insurance (since 2000) · Explorer Insurance Company (1997) · Farmers Insurance Group of Companies (2000) · Federated Mutual Insurance Company (1998) · General Casualty Insurance Companies (1998) · Grange Mutual Casualty Companies (1998) · Great American Insurance Company (1998) · Hartford Financial Services (2000) · Keystone Insurance Companies of Philadelphia · Metropolitan Group, Rhode Island
Norwich Union · Motorist Mutual –American Hardware Insurance Group (1998) · Ohio Casualty Group of Insurance Companies (1998) · State Auto Insurance Companies of Columbus (1996) · 20th Century Industries (1997) · Travelers/Aetna Property Casualty (1996) · United Services Automobile Association (USAA) (1997) · Utica Mutual Insurance Company (2000) · Zurich Personal Insurance (1998)
Good graphs comparing settlement with and without Colossus: