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How automation helps carriers manage claims, prevent future accidents

Crash management systems help lower carriers’ costs

Image credit: Jim Allen / FreightWaves

By Larry Kerr, president of InfoStream

Carriers have systems that streamline many aspects of their operations, including dispatch, recruiting, mobile communications, document imaging and accounting. Despite the advancement in automation, an area that has remained outside a structured system may be the one in which carriers have the most exposure to financial and operational loss: crash and claims management. 

Regardless of carrier size, when there is a crash, a series of phone calls, emails and spreadsheets are set into motion to try and determine the severity of the crash, as well as the next process to be invoked given the crash’s perceived magnitude. The answers to questions are gathered, such as if the vehicle was towed, was the driver or other victims transported by ambulance, or did the unthinkable occur ⁠— a fatality. These are some of the questions that determine if the crash is DOT reportable. 

If the crash is DOT reportable, activities such as drug and alcohol testing and timeframes are mandated along with other procedures. If any of these procedures are missed or not documented correctly, a carrier’s exposure in potential litigation or DOT fines may increase immensely.

More important than the financial aspect of a crash is the human aspect. Is the carrier providing the information and services needed for the driver and his or her family? Is the exchange of information between local law enforcement and the carrier’s safety team being documented and stored in a way information access can be granted and controlled?  Based on the preliminary review, is the carrier communicating to the public and crash victims through the proper channels?

 As a carrier begins to work through the processes of post-crash investigation, the legal, operations and safety departments often work within their own spreadsheets or databases created by the carrier’s information technology team. 

In some cases, a carrier has access to an insurance company’s claims system that helps the insurance provider manage the crash, but this system leaves the carrier vulnerable and leads to duplication of effort and files. With such disparate systems, there lacks a definitive system of record. Without such, the complexity and cost of a possible defense of a crash becomes more complex and expensive and may not allow for the visibility to crucial information that may support the carrier.

In addition to managing the accident scene processes, there is also the accounting side of a crash. Reserve management, asset repairs, vendor payments, as well as possible settlements are processed through a carrier’s accounts payable system. Often, this data is exported into yet another spreadsheet and placed on a network share for review, access and the further duplication of efforts. 

Given how many carriers are managing crashes, and to a great extent claims, there is a need for automation, which will mitigate exposure created by errors in process, duplication of efforts and combining disparate systems into an integrated system of record. 

Crash management systems are available that manage the assessment of the driver’s habits to provide a predictive modeling assessment as to the probability the driver will have another crash and integrate with telematics data and cameras and accounting and asset maintenance systems. 

By integrating disparate systems to provide a single repository of a driver’s behavior, a system of record is created with video, documents and accounting data. Through the system of record, standard operating procedures for DOT and non-DOT recordable accidents are managed through workflows, which ensure the proper actions are taken to adhere to required federal, state, local and carrier-mandated regulations and procedures.

These systems not only lower the costs to administer a crash, but they may also help prevent crashes by allowing the ability of business intelligence applications to provide insight to possible commonality between crashes. This data can be utilized to create policies and procedures to lower the risk of future crashes. 

Ultimately, as crash management systems are more widely adopted, carriers can implement policies and procedures based on the insight to root cause these systems provide. As such, both the industry and public will benefit from safer roads.


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