Public Risk Pool Cuts Claims and Legal Costs With CSC's Integrated Software
You've seen the headlines: Parents File Lawsuit Against School Board. Tornado Damages School. High School Physics Experiment Destroys Lab. Students Injured in Bus Crash.
High profile, school-related claims usually generate plenty of media attention and require special handling throughout the life of the claim. One state-sanctioned public risk pool with more than 1,000 school organizations as members, manages a $100 million self-insurance program that is the largest such pool in the United States.
The association's members file as many as 1,500 claims each year for workers' compensation, property, liability and unemployment compensation.
Facing an increase in the costs of both claims and litigated cases, the risk pool talked to CSC about ways to improve the processing and tracking of expenses. The association had been using CSC's RISKMASTER risk and claims management software for more than a decade, so the two companies worked together on an innovative approach to integrate the association's claims, legal and policy systems--and transform its paper-based legal billing process.
"We were thinking about upgrading to the Web-based version of RISKMASTER, and one of the key benefits was the integration with CSC's Legal Solutions Suite," according to the association's litigation manager. "At the time, we had to sort through pages of legal bills that the law firms mailed in. We really needed to get a better handle on our costs, and this combination of software products allowed us to eliminate paper and better manage our costs."
IMPROVING CLAIMS AND LEGAL PROCESSES
With a running caseload of 200 to 300 open lawsuits, litigation management was one of the association's top priorities for modernization. School organizations typically receive broad immunities. In many cases, the only way to sue a school district is to take it to federal court, which requires the association to retain outside counsel qualified in both federal law and school law.
With a relatively limited selection of law firms to choose from, historically the association's primary focus was getting the best outcomes in court. Expenses were a secondary concern, and legal costs were climbing. The association chose Legal Solutions Suite because of its ability to support e-billing, simplify the bill review process and track outside counsel performance.
One of the first things the organization discovered with the new system was that some of the law firms were not following the association's billing guidelines. "The immediate benefit for us was the automation of legal invoices," the litigation manager said. "Legal Solutions Suite lets you group attorneys' charges together, which you can't do with a paper invoice. Once you get that capability, certain patterns and practices become obvious."
ARMED WITH BETTER INFORMATION
The association was able to extract information about potential overcharges and share it with the attorneys in person. In some cases, the firms were apologetic and said they would correct their billing practices immediately. "Gaining the awareness, getting people to recognize errors, and getting them to change their practices were major benefits of the new system," she said. "We've already experienced the savings we wanted. If we never save another dime, we've met our goal."
In addition to managing legal costs, the association used Legal Solutions Suite and RISKMASTER to improve efficiency and promote best practices throughout its operations. Paperless processing, electronic routing and centralized access to comprehensive information are no longer confined to the association's headquarters. Members now report their losses online, and the adjusters can access all of the information they need from the field with an Internet connection. Additionally, the fully integrated systems make it possible to approve a claim in the system and pay it automatically.
'GREATER SENSE OF CONTROL'
The association's highly visible position as a public entity requires similarly high standards of accountability. Accurate information and statistics are critical to this end. "In the past, the dual data entry caused a lot of errors and problems. Now, we can initiate a claim in RISKMASTER and push it into Legal Solutions Suite without rekeying data, which is a great thing," the litigation manager said.
Her department has been able to turn its focus to the other types information that can be captured and analyzed based on venues, judges, causes of action, settlement ranges and disposition methods.
"Performance standards for our staff as well as our vendors are extremely important," she added. "Historically, we've not had any objective information for evaluation. Much of our feedback to attorneys and other service vendors was subjective. Now we have reports and data that we can use to either confirm that they are our true partners or highlight some deficiencies where they need to improve."
She is one of several litigation managers serving on CSC's Legal Solutions Suite Advisory Council. The council works closely with CSC and outside law firms on ways to continually refine the software and incorporate the industry's best practices for managing outside counsel.
"It's been an eye-opening experience on the type of information that's available to us," she said. "The software gives us the full picture of everything from our expenses down to the details of individual law firm compliance. Overall, it's given us a greater sense of control, and that is invaluable."
To learn more about CSC's software for risk management and claims and legal management. Contact CSC at 800.345.7672 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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November 6, 2008
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