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TRS® Frequently Asked Questions

Simply file a Counterclaim as you normally would so the cases are related. Your contentions will/should outline your case so the arbitrator(s) who hear the cases know that you are seeking your recovery from the other Respondent.
Yes. Per Rule 2-4, if a responding company asserts the affirmative defense of denial of coverage they must also submit a copy of their denial of coverage letter to the person seeking the coverage under the policy. If a denial of coverage letter to the proper party is submitted, the case will be administratively closed. If no such letter is submitted, or the submitted letter is not to the appropriate person (i.e. letter is directed to Named Insured not person driving vehicle, or, to filing company advising them that coverage is being denied), the case will proceed to hearing wherein the denial of coverage position will be ruled on by an arbitrator. Another example could be where the responding company's position is based on the theft of their insured's vehicle. If the thief is unknown, the responding company will be unable to send a denial of coverage letter. This type of case will also proceed to hearing wherein the arbitrator will consider and rule on the defense of theft. Last, a denial of coverage can also be arbitrated in our UM forum. The UM forum is where the correctness of a coverage denial is the ONLY issue that may be decided and that is ONLY if the denial of coverage resulted in a claim being made under the uninsured motorist provisions of the policy.
Yes. Under Rule 1-2, if a matter is in litigation and it is determined that all parties are represented by signatory companies, arbitration must be filed even if the Statue of Limitations has expired. It must be noted though, that arbitration must be filed within 60 days of dismissal or the responding company will be free to assert the delay as an Affirmative Defense.
Yes. If per Rule 1-4 you wish to implead/add another signatory, there is an option to add a Respondent.
The 'intercompany' arbitration agreements are available only to insurers, self-insureds, or commercial insured with large retentions/deductibles, not individuals - even if they should wish to participate. Their participation is excluded under the individual Agreements.
No, Applications, Responses or Contentions Sheet are NOT accepted via fax. You can utilize our Online Filing system to submit applications or responses. Online Filing offers a number of benefits including saving you both time and money and having a positive effect on the environment by eliminating paper from the arbitration process.
No, supporting evidence must be uploaded into the system by the Materials Due Date.
AF does not currently accept audio or video files via direct upload or links to external Web sites like YouTube as evidence. AF, as well as our member companies whose arbitrators hear cases remotely, prohibits access to external links as part of its IT security policy to prevent the spread of viruses, malware, etc.

If a party wishes to have video evidence viewed by the Arbitrator, it must declare the tape, DVD, etc. as evidence. The member must also request a personal appearance. AF will contact the member representative to schedule a videoconference for the arbitrator to view the declared evidence.

In the event a member is unable to participate or share evidence via videoconferencing, AF will make arrangements with the member to provide the evidence to be viewed by an arbitrator, or the member may present the video evidence in person and must arrange for equipment to be available to present the evidence to the arbitrator.

In the case of audio evidence (such as recorded statements), AF requires the written transcript of the recording be declared and provided as evidence for the arbitrator to view.
  • Yes, video evidence such as dash cam or security videos can be submitted in both the TRS and OLF arbitration platforms.
    • The file size cannot exceed 40MB.
    • Acceptable file types are .mov, .wmv, .avi, .mp4, and .vob.
    • All submitted video file types are converted to .mp4 format to eliminate any compatibility issues for the arbitrator.
    • Bookmarking may be used on lengthy videos to indicate points of interest to the arbitrator.
    • Examples of appropriate video evidence include: dash cam video of accident, security video showing accident, and video of scene.
    When videos do not meet these requirements, you may receive a system error. Don’t worry, we’ve got a work-around for you!

    Start by opening a Word document, add the header “Video Evidence,” and attach it as evidence to the case. Under "Evidence Type," select Video Evidence. Next, request a personal appearance under the Filing Options and Billing Workflow Step, and submit the case to arbitration.

    Once the case has been submitted to arbitration, a personal appearance hearing will be scheduled where the claims representative will share his or her video with the arbitrators for review.  

    NOTE: In the case of audio evidence (such as recorded statements), AF requires the written transcript of the recording be submitted as evidence for the arbitrator to view. A video recording where the sole purpose is for the audio content is not considered video evidence.
The Incident Info tab in our Online Filing system (OLF) contains two coverage queries for the responding company to answer: "A liability policy was in effect at the time of loss" and "Has coverage been denied for this claim."

For the first question, the Respondent will check "Yes" if the listed "Insured," as identified by the Applicant, is an insured under a liability policy or is self-insured for liability. Check "No" if the listed "Insured" is not insured under a liability policy, the policy expired, the insured has collision coverage only (no liability coverage), or the listed self-insured has liability coverage with a carrier. If the Respondent answers "No" to the first question, it must explain this in the Affirmative Defense section, i.e. no liability policy in effect or policy expired prior to loss. The case will be closed as arbitration lacks jurisdiction.

If the Respondent answers "Yes" to the first question, it must answer the second as well. If it answers “Yes” that coverage has been denied to the party seeking coverage for the loss in dispute, it must also assert the Affirmative Defense and submit a copy of the denial letter to that party as evidence. If submitted, the filing will be administratively closed as arbitration will lack jurisdiction (per Article Second (e)). If a denial letter is not submitted, the case will proceed to hearing wherein the coverage defense will be considered by the arbitrator(s).
The Dispute Damages tab must be used to dispute the amount of damages sought by the filing company. Damage arguments in any other section will not be considered by the arbitrator. Also, when disputing damages, you must state the specific damages being disputed and the disputed amounts. Simply stating "All damages are disputed" will not yield a favorable result. Lastly, if no entry is made in the Dispute Damages tab, damages are not at issue.
If the unnamed party is a signatory, you must name them as a Respondent (Company 3 in Special) on the application. You will present your liability position in your Contentions. You will send a copy of your response to AF and all parties.

If the unnamed party is not a signatory, you can secure their consent to participate in the arbitration and then name them as a Respondent (or Company 3) and proceed as above. If their consent is not secured, you do not name them as a party on the application. Rather, you present your liability case in your contentions and argue the unnamed party’s negligence. The filing company has the right to withdraw their application if they wish pursue all parties in litigation. If the filing is not withdrawn, the arbitrator(s) will apportion liability and award damages, if applicable, against the named Respondent(s). The filing company is barred from pursuing further recovery.

If the unnamed party is uninsured, you do not name them as a party on the application. You present your liability case in your contentions. The case proceeds as above.
If joint and several liability is asserted, supported, and applies, the arbitrator must follow local law and apply it in the arbitration. Local law controls the decisions and the parties neither gain nor lose any rights in arbitration that they have in litigation.
Since the unnamed alleged tortfeasor is a phantom, arbitration would retain jurisdiction as the dispute is between two members. The named Respondent (or Company 3 in Special) will need to implead this unknown party by arguing their respective liability in their contentions. The arbitrator(s) will apportion liability and award the filing company what it is owed by the named Respondent.
The damages being sought determine which forum is compulsory. If you are seeking recovery of auto damages (e.g. tree limb fell on car), you must file in Auto; if you are seeking recovery of property damage (e.g. car drove into home/building), you must file in Property. The Respondent's liability coverage is irrelevant. A Respondent can be an auto liability, homeowner's liability, general liability, products liability carrier, etc.
The answer, and the forum in which you will file, will depend on which coverage was used to pay the damages. If you paid everything under auto coverage, Auto would be the appropriate forum. If you paid the car seat claim under Homeowners coverage, you would file it in the Property forum as companion filing to Auto filing (for the vehicle damage claim).
If the Respondent does not properly assert and support its policy limit coverage defense under the Affirmative Defense tab, or it fails to assert at all, the arbitrator may award the Applicant's full claim amount. Per Rule 2-4, any affirmative defense MUST be properly asserted and supported, i.e., dec page or something. Last, if the Rules are not followed, including Rule 3-9, and an award in excess of the policy limits is given, the award is binding and most likely would be enforceable by a court.
Yes. Per Rule 2-10, companion cases are treated as one claim, and each related case will be deferred and the deferment fee charged accordingly.
There is nothing in the Arbitration Agreements or Rules that compels a signatory to pay an adverse insured's claim. The Intercompany Arbitration Agreements bind the signatory companies to arbitrate disputes among themselves. The insured is not a party to the Agreement. Article Third of the various Agreement specifically states that an arbitration decision is "neither res judicata nor collateral estoppel to any other claim or suit arising out of the same accident, occurrence, or event" and "conclusive only of the issues in the matter submitted to the panel and only as to the parties to the arbitration."
A responding company can assert denial of coverage as an affirmative defense. Per Rule 2-4, if they submit a denial of coverage letter to the appropriate party (advising them that coverage is being denied due to noncooperation or no notice, etc.), the case will be administratively closed as lacking jurisdiction (Article Second). You would be free to pursue the 'uninsured' party directly. If no such letter is submitted, the case will proceed to hearing. The arbitrator will consider the coverage defense and any evidence submitted to support it. He/She will either uphold or deny the defense. It should be noted that each State may have different 'requirements' that a carrier must comply with to uphold such a defense.
Below are the States where intercompany arbitration is mandatory per state statute and AF is specifically named as the administrator. The source is also provided, however, this is subject to change, and AF does not guarantee its accuracy. For other states that mandate arbitration for disputes between insurers but do specifically designate AF as the provider, arbitration would be compulsory if all parties are signatory to the PIP Arbitration Agreement for the loss state; arbitration may also be filed with consent.
State Source Forum
DC § 31-2405 (i) Auto Arbitration
DE 21 Del. C. § 2118(g)(3) Auto, PIP, Property, and Special (when claim involves DE registered motor vehicle)
KY KRS 304.39-070 PIP (Authority for PIP arbitration is given to KIAA, whose rules reflect that either the KIAA or AF may be selected for arbitration)
MD Insurance Code 19-514 Auto Arbitration
MN § 65B.53 PIP Arbitration
NY § 65-4.11 of Regulation 68 PIP Arbitration (Loss Transfer/Priority of Payment)
VA § 38.2-2231 Auto Arbitration
An Affirmative Defense bears only on the authority of an arbitrator on behalf of Arbitration Forums, Inc. to decide the dispute in arbitration. It has no bearing on the right of recovery in any other venue and is NOT a finding of no liability. It means only that Arbitration Forums has no authority over, or may not decide, the dispute.
Decisions may not be shared with insureds. Insureds do not understand the intercompany arbitration process that the membership has agreed to use to resolve their subrogation disputes. Further, the insured is not a party to the arbitration; only the interests of the signatory companies are involved. Signatories are free to handle their insured's claims as they deem appropriate, i.e., refund deductible, assess no liability, regardless of the arbitration decision.
No. Each forum includes a monetary limit for compulsory dispute. If the claim exceeds this amount, the matter is outside arbitration's jurisdiction. Arbitration might still be filed with written consent, or, the filing company may file arbitration for the monetary limit and waive pursuit of the balance of the claim.
The distinction between proof of payment and proof of damages is important. Confusion has existed at times from both sides of a dispute, as well as arbitrators. Proof of payment is a must only when a respondent, through its answer, affirmatively challenges the existence of a subrogation claim. If this is not challenged affirmatively through the respondent's answer, then the presumption is the applicant has made payment to its insured. Otherwise, it would not have a subrogation claim and arbitration would not be filed. Such challenges should be rare and the challenge should be substantiated. A challenge should not simply be raised because the Applicant did not list Proof of Payment in their evidence listing. We don't want to require the submission of unnecessary documentation. If the applicant's claim for subrogation is challenged, then as part of its evidence the applicant must prove payment. This could take the form of a copy of the check or draft issued to an insured in payment of the loss or a copy of the proof of loss executed by the insured on the claim. While it is not a requirement to submit proof of payment to prove damages, we do recommend it be included in the evidence packet. Many arbitrators find it useful to verify if the filing company has listed their damage claim correctly (not included their deductible twice, deducted their salvage return. It is also of particular benefit when there are prior partial payments.
KRS 304.39-070 gives insurers two options for resolving disputes: (1) joining as a party in an action that may be commenced by the person suffering the injury, or (2) filing intercompany arbitration. If an insurer opts (1), Rule 1-2 cannot be enforced; the statute takes precedence. This applies specifically to Kentucky PIP claims.
Kentucky statutory authority for PIP arbitration is given to KIAA whose rules reflect that either the KIAA or AF may be selected for arbitration.
No, but it is strongly recommended to ensure optimal recovery. A filing company need only name any signatory tortfeasor from whom they seek recovery. If they don't, however, Rule 1-4, affords a responding company the right to implead another party whom they believe to be at fault. If the insurer for that party is signatory (or the party itself is a self-insured signatory), the responding company must name that party as a Respondent (or Company 3 in Special and UM forums). If the other party is not a signatory, the responding company cannot name them as a party (absent their consent to participate) but they may argue a nonmembers liability in their contentions, the filing company will have two options: 1, withdraw their filing and pursue all parties outside of arbitration, or 2, allow the case to proceed to hearing to secure any amount the arbitrator deems the signatory responding company is liable for. By allowing the case to proceed to hearing, the Applicant thereby waives pursuit of any other party of any remaining balance.
When you file as Applicant, list your correct Company Code. The Company Code listed is used for billing purposes (i.e. filing fee, reschedule fee). When you are the Respondent, list your Company Code on your response. By indicating the proper Company Code on the arbitration application, you will eliminate any billing errors.
Yes. Since you are seeking recovery of auto damages, the Auto forum is compulsory. The type of damages sought determines which forum is compulsory, not the type of coverage afforded by the Respondent. The type of liability coverage afforded by the Respondent is irrelevant. A Respondent can be an auto liability, homeowner's liability, general liability, products liability carrier, etc. So, if the carrier is signatory to Auto, arbitration is compulsory.
Yes, especially when liability is admitted and the only disputed issue is damages, or when partial liability is admitted. The responding company is the party that sets forth the issue(s) to be decided by the arbitrator. By entering a percentage of liability in the "I admit ____% liability" field, the responding company is advising the arbitrator that it concedes this amount of liability. The arbitrator can find the Respondent more liable than it admitted, but not less. Also, an offer is not a concession of liability. Prior negotiation correspondence between the parties can be submitted to support a liability theory, but it does not trigger whether liability is conceded. Rather, it is the Respondent's answer to the arbitration filing and what is entered in the "I admit ____% liability" field.
To document a denial of coverage, a denial letter must be directly addressed to the entity for whom coverage is denied (or, the party seeking coverage) informing him of the denial (not always the Named Insured). A letter to another entity (i.e. any third party with a liability claim/action) regarding the denial is not sufficient for purposes of Rule 2-4. This includes correspondence that "copies" the entity for whom coverage is denied.
Unless the decision is eligible for Appeal under Rule 2-12 in the Property or Special forums, only a clerical or jurisdictional error can be reviewed. Any other issue, such as interpretation of law or evidence, is within the discretion of the arbitrator and may NOT be reviewed, amended or voided.
The filing company has a choice to arbitrate against only the signatory party, or file an action for recovery in a court against all negligent parties. If the Filing company chooses to arbitrate and the negligence of the not named party is successfully argued by the named responding company, the Filing company may NOT later file another action in court against the non-signatory. By choosing to pursue recovery via arbitration, the filing company waives any right to pursue other parties separately outside of arbitration's jurisdiction.
For starters, a deferment is a one-year postponement of a hearing due to the existence of a companion claim or suit. A deferment is not to be requested simply to get more time to prepare/submit a response. When considering whether to uphold a deferment request, the arbitrator will look at what effect the arbitration hearing will have on the companion claim/suit and vice versa. Since the arbitration decision is neither res judicata nor collateral estoppel, it, in itself, should have no effect on the companion claim/suit. Some reasons a deferment may be warranted include policy limit (including single-limit policy), discovery still in progress (results of which will be used in arbitration as well as litigation), and active fraud investigation. In many instances, when you have Auto and PIP or Med Pay companion claims, the arbitrator may agree to defer the PIP or Med Pay (for the above reasons) but not the Auto (unless there is a single-limit policy that would affect both claims). In closing, if you request a one-year deferment, you must effectively justify the request (Deferment Justification section of Incident Info tab) so the arbitrator understands why the companion claim/suit must be resolved first.
An arbitrator's decision must always be based solely on the evidence that is submitted. In cases where conflicting versions of an accident/loss are presented (i.e. conflicting insured versions of a motor vehicle accident), and no other evidence corroborates either insured's version, determining liability will most likely be impossible. An exception would be where the filing company is an innocent party (i.e. parked or legally stopped vehicle) seeking recovery from multiple respondents whose accident caused their damages. In these cases, while the specific liability percentage of the respective responding companies may not be determined, the filing company has proven that their damages were the result of their accident and an award may be apportioned equally amongst the responding companies.
  • For an initial deferment request, select "Yes" for "Request Deferment" on the Incident Info tab and explain why a one-year deferment is needed in the Deferment Justification field. Per Rule 2-10, a deferment request by the filing company will be automatically granted. A responding company may challenge the request if it believes the delay is not warranted. If challenged, the case will be heard, and the arbitrator(s) will consider the validity of the request. If the request is upheld, the case will be deferred for one year from the date of filing. If the request is denied, the arbitrator will continue to hear the disputed issues, i.e., coverage, liability, and damages. Deferment requests by a responding company will be automatically challenged, and the same process as outlined above will be followed.
 
  • If you need to renew your deferment request (after the initial one-year period lapses), the case status automatically changes from "Deferred" to "Scheduled Hearing" 120 days before the current deferment period expires. At this time, the Respondent will access the case, select "Amend Response" and then "Yes" for "Request Deferment" on the Incident Info tab. The Deferment Justification originally entered will carry over and can be used or amended if needed. If you originally responded via mail/paper, you will have to refile your paperwork via mail/paper. If you resubmit a copy of the original paperwork, you should initial where you originally signed the Certification of Service and write the new date so our Member Service Department knows it is a deferment renewal request.
Rule 5-2 provides the process to follow to secure payment of an award. The rule also contains language that permits the filing company to seek reimbursement of any legal expenses, costs, etc. that are incurred should litigation have to be filed to enforce payment.
The entry in the "I admit ____% liability" field takes precedence over any liability arguments made in the responding company's contentions in most cases. For example, in cases involving a single impact, if the responding company enters "100%" in this field but also makes liability arguments in its contentions, the arbitrator's liability decision will be controlled by the 100% liability admission. (If "0%" is entered in this field but no liability arguments are made, the arbitrator is free to deem that liability is not at issue and resolve any damages dispute.) In cases involving multiple impacts where the Respondent may be admitting 100% liability for the Applicant's rear damages only, the arbitrator will have the discretion to rule on the disputed front damages.
A one-year deferment is requested when a pending companion claim or suit to the matter in arbitration must be concluded before an arbitrator considers the dispute in arbitration. The Deferment Justification must state a clear reason why the arbitration hearing must be postponed, and evidence to support that reason should be provided. Since the sufficiency of the justification is within the arbitrator's discretion and is specific to each case, it is difficult to provide a list of valid reasons for deferments. All that can be stated is, a deferment request must outline the affect the pending claim or suit has on the matter in arbitration and why such a claim or suit must be concluded prior to the arbitration matter proceeding to hearing. It also must be stressed that since the decision on the deferment request is at the arbitrator's discretion, it is not subject to review.
  • There are two ways to raise a liability deductible or self-insured retention:
    1. As an Affirmative Defense when the amount sought by the filing company is less than or within the liability deductible or self-insured retention amount — In this scenario the exposure rests completely with your insured and arbitration would lack jurisdiction over the claim, so raising as an Affirmative Defense to jurisdiction would be appropriate.
    2. As a Damages Dispute when the amount sought by the filing company is greater than the liability deductible or self-insured retention amount — In this scenario the Respondent carrier may have an exposure (for the amount in excess of the liability deductible/self-insured retention), so arbitration would retain jurisdiction over the dispute. The responding company would need to present the issue of the liability deductible/self-insured retention in the Dispute Damages area and provide supporting evidence, so these damages can be reduced by the arbitrator if liability is proven against the Respondent.
  • Materials Due Date: This is the deadline that all case actions must be completed, i.e., responses, amendments, reschedules, evidence submission.
  • Ready to Hear Date: This is the date the case is ready to be assigned to an arbitrator for resolution; the Materials Due Date and Last Reschedule Date have lapsed.
  • Estimated Heard by Date: This is the adjuster's diary date for a decision. Depending on arbitrator participation, this is the latest date by which the decision will be published.
No, the date of the loss is not controlling. What controls compulsory jurisdiction is the status of the claim on the signatory effective date. If a pending claim meets the provisions of Article First, it is subject to compulsory arbitration, regardless of the accident date. The key word is pending. Pending is synonymous, from the viewpoint of arbitration, with active claims. Closed claims are excluded, as are claims that have been abandoned prior to a company's decision to participate in arbitration.
Legal fees may be recovered for one of two reasons. A party may be entitled to recover attorney fees if a case is removed from arbitration because of an objection to jurisdiction (affirmative defense) raised by the responding party, and it is discovered that it was properly placed in arbitration and the filing company refiles the case (Rule 2-8). Legal fees may also be recovered in Special Arbitration. For more details, please refer to Chapter 16 in AF's Reference Guide.
Cases are administered in adherence to the rules in effect on the date of filing.
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