January 2016 E-Bulletin

This month's E-Bulletin topics include:

  1. 2015: Year in Review
  2. Sudden Medical Emergency Doctrine: Liability Defense or Affirmative Defense?
  3. Training Opportunities

2015: Year in Review

2015 Year in Review

In 2015, members filed over 693,000 arbitration disputes and 1,494,000 subrogation demands collectively worth over $9.75 billion in claims. AF continues to enhance the arbitration and subrogation process through member feedback. See what AF has done over the past year to improve member products and services.


At AF, we support efficient processes that save time and improve the accuracy of filings. Take a look at just some of the enhancements we implemented throughout 2015 to make it faster and easier to do business with us.

  • Sustained critical system uptime of 99.7%
  • Revised the appeal process for the Property Forum and enhanced arbitrator profiling to match arbitrator experience and knowledge to claim type (i.e., homeowner's fire, cargo in transit, watercraft, etc.)
  • Increased efficiencies and decreased our carbon footprint with E-Statements, electronic billing statements that members retrieve from the AF Web site
  • Created a system announcement feature to alert users to new product features and functionality or other critical, time-sensitive communications
  • Updated the Reference Guide to AF's Agreements and Rules

E-Subro Hub

In 2015, participation in E-Subro Hub continued to grow, bringing the market share to 85% (auto written premium). AF added additional functionality and improved existing functionality to make E-Subro Hub more efficient and easier to use!

  • Introduced an option to specify whether Auto Damages (Company Paid) are "Collision" or "Comp (OTC)"
  • Released a new enhancement that enables a party to make private evidence public after a demand is issued

Helping Members Achieve Their Goals

AF prides itself on providing our membership with high-quality services that achieve best-in-class member satisfaction. This includes training to improve performance — for both users (E-Subro Hub and Arbitration) as well as arbitrators. Training is offered via Webinars, tutorials, and online reference guides at absolutely no cost to members. These resources are updated throughout the year to provide members the latest information on the procedures of each program; practical application of the arbitration rules; presenting an effective case to a neutral arbitrator; and, as an arbitrator, hearing cases.

During 2015:

  • 3,530 arbitrators completed AF's Writing Quality Decisions training
  • Arbitrator QwikShares (20-minute, topic specific Webinars) were provided on: Navigating Decision Entry, Overriding Awards, Liability Decisions, Affirmative Defenses, Counterclaims, The Decision Explanation, and Prima Facie Cases
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Sudden Medical Emergency Doctrine: Liability Defense or Affirmative Defense?

Image of a sign that reads Accident and Emergency

Imagine the following liability claim scenario: Your insured lost consciousness, swerved over a median, and struck a legally parked vehicle, rendering it a total loss. The claims investigation reveals your insured suffered an unforeseen medical event that precipitated the accident, and you believe your insured is not liable for the property damage based on the Sudden Medical Emergency doctrine. The insurer of the other vehicle did not accept your liability denial and filed its subrogation claim in the Auto Forum.

Assuming you have evidence to prove this doctrine is applicable in the loss state, and that the medical condition was unforeseeable, how would you present this argument to the arbitrator?

With a Sudden Medical Emergency defense, you are asserting your insured did not breach any duties owed because your insured was unaware of the medical condition that caused the loss of control. The appropriate place to make this argument is in your contentions. This allows an arbitrator to render a final and binding decision on liability. Sudden Medical Emergency is not an exclusion to compulsory arbitration (see Article Second of the Auto Agreement). As such, it would not be argued as an Affirmative Defense (AD). It also should be noted that, if it is argued as an AD and the arbitrator grants it, the Applicant could continue to pursue the claim outside of arbitration.

In closing, argue the reason(s) for the lack of liability, like a sudden medical emergency, in the contentions to have your insured found not liable for the subrogation claim. And, as always, support those contentions with evidence!

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Training Opportunities

Training and Development

Whether you are filing for the first time or want a refresher course, these interactive, instructor-led Webinars offer valuable information on filing and responding to claims. Sign up today on the AF Web site!

Key Arbitration Rules and Terms
Feb. 5, 11 AM EST

Upon completion of this Webinar, learners will be able to better explain and apply the key rules and terms of AF's intercompany arbitration programs.

Writing Effective Contentions (Filing Company)
Feb. 9, 11 AM EST

Develop the skills you need to prepare an effective case by learning how to write an introductory statement, body, and closing statement, and discover how to use the "linking" technique to support each allegation with specific evidence. An activity is included to provide learners with the opportunity to apply the content discussed.

Writing Effective Contentions (Responder Company)
Feb. 9, 2 PM EST

Develop the skills you need to effectively respond to a filing by learning how to write an introductory statement, body, and closing statement, and discover how to use the "linking" technique to support each allegation made with specific evidence. This Webinar also includes discussion on affirmative defenses and disputing damages.

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