September 2019 E-Bulletin

This month's E-Bulletin topics include:

  1. Message from the President
  2. Urgent - TPA Action Items Requested Before October 1
  3. Decision Quality through Member Feedback
  4. TRS Resource Page and Upcoming Webinars
  5. Non-signatories and TRS
  6. TRS Self-Insured Filings
  7. TRS Deferments Resource Now Available
  8. Preserving Neutrality, Privacy, and Confidentiality
  9. Filing without Global Email Addresses
  10. Adding Evidence during Damage Dispute Revisit
  11. System Maintenance, December 2019

Message from the President

Image of President and CEO Kathy MahneWith October 1 less than two short weeks away, we are in the final countdown to the full-scale launch of the first phase of our upgraded online filing platform, Total Recovery Solution (TRS). Many of you are already taking advantage of the benefits of TRS for your automobile subrogation arbitration program cases. Now, we are excited to transition all of our members into TRS for the Auto program.

It’s hard to believe that on November 15, 2010, AF unveiled electronic evidence submission. At the time, it was a significant step toward adapting online tools to make it more convenient for members to complete the filing process in a single, web-based platform. It eliminated many of the delays and expenses associated with printing, copying, mailing, and scanning, not to mention its positive environmental impact.

Today, TRS takes another step further. In TRS, evidence is attached at the same time the filing or response is prepared for submission and linked directly to a liability or damages argument. Not only does this reduce filing errors, it allows arbitrators to view the evidence in context and ensures they address evidence linked to specific arguments. That leads to improved decision quality – a top factor in member satisfaction.

And THAT is what it’s all about – your satisfaction. As a member-driven organization, our vision is to deliver innovative solutions that ensure exceptional member satisfaction.

Working closely with members through advisory groups, like Member Council and the Technology Advisory Group, TRS, both in this first phase and those yet to come, incorporates some of the most-requested member features to streamline the filing and responding experience, improve decision quality, and reduce cycle times.

We expect the average cycle time in TRS to be at least 30 days faster than the 68-day industry cycle time in Online Filing. TRS is designed to avoid unnecessary delays. Cases are ready to hear as soon as the response is filed, and arbitrators pull their own cases, ensuring the oldest cases are heard first. These faster cycle times translate to higher efficiency and lower cost for our members.

From evolving the evidence submission process to creating user-friendly arbitrator workflows, TRS has been built, and will continue to expand, to better serve your recovery and resolution needs. We anticipate PIP and Med Pay arbitration programs will transition to the upgraded platform in 2020, with all remaining arbitration programs upgraded to TRS by the end of 2021.

All of us at AF are excited about the future of this upgraded platform and the benefits it will bring to the membership. We hope you are as excited about continuing to innovate with us.

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Urgent - TPA Action Items Requested Before October 1

Image of an exclamation point in a road signWe have received questions following an email that was sent August 5, 2019, regarding Third-Party Administrator (TPA) privileges, and wanted to provide clarification on the restricted and unrestricted actions leading up to the upgrade from Online Filing (OLF) to Total Recovery Solution® (TRS®) on October 1.

Prior to October 1, Arbitration Forums, Inc. (AF) will assign privileges for the TRS system to all existing OLF users at your company. If a user currently has the ability to file and/or respond in OLF, the user will have equivalent privileges to perform those actions in TRS.

Action Items

Effective October 1, TPAs that file and/or respond on behalf of a member company in OLF will automatically be given restricted access in TRS. Restricted access is defined as access to cases that members specifically assign to the TPA from within TRS. There is no need to obtain new TPA Letters of Consent or designate permission/consent via email for restricted access. However, if a member company determines a TPA should have unrestricted access, a new TPA Letter of Consent with the appropriate box checked, or an email requesting access, is required.

To expedite requests, an email to ( with the following criteria is now acceptable. The below information must be included in the email:

  • TPA name and code
  • Member name and code
  • Email signature with job position (must be from senior-level individual with authority to bind organization)
  • The following verbiage is suggested: Please allow TPA (name) to file as unrestricted on behalf of (member company).

TPA Privileges Table

For the most recent information regarding TPA privileges, please refer to the table below.

Action Restricted Unrestricted
Does a TPA need to be assigned to an existing TRS case by a member company? Yes No
Can a TPA begin a new case in TRS on behalf of a member company? Yes Yes
Does a TPA need to be assigned to the TRS case to respond on behalf of a member company? Yes No
Can a TPA assigned to an E-Subro demand push a demand from E-Subro Hub to arbitration into TRS and handle the case? Yes Yes

If you have any questions regarding TRS privileges or access, please contact the Member Service Center at 866-977-3434 or email

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Decision Quality through Member Feedback

Image of stars lined up on a wood tableTwo things are certain:
  • Decision quality is a key driver to member satisfaction and usage of AF’s arbitration programs.
  • Member feedback regarding the quality of decision is of utmost importance to AF and its membership.
An exciting design feature of TRS is its Member Decision Review functionality. Through this functionality, dedicated member reviewers provide their feedback on recent decisions. The feedback is specific to whether the decision was reasonable, as well as if it was clearly explained (what evidence was influential and why). Feedback is shared with arbitrators from each member company for training and coaching, as well as utilized to identify trends and shape future training of current and future member arbitrators. 

Why is the Member Decision Review process so important? The feedback received is objective and completely neutral.
  1. Member reviewers are not affiliated with the cases/decisions they review.
  2. The arbitrator’s name is omitted. The reviewer does not know if they are providing feedback on a decision rendered by an arbitrator from their company or another company.
In 2019, 17 member companies participated in the TRS Member Decision Review, with 26 member experts providing feedback on over 400 arbitration decisions. If one of your decisions as an arbitrator was reviewed, you will have received the specific feedback. Additionally, you will see this valuable feedback shape our training tools and communications as this review process continues to be refined with increasing member participation. 

Additionally, TRS allows for member self-reviews where member managers can now review decisions rendered by their own arbitrators. You are now able to recognize your arbitrators for the fine work they do rendering decisions on intercompany arbitrations and identify any training opportunities. 

Please contact your AF Field Arbitration Manager if your company is interested in participating in either the Member Decision Review or the self-review process. More to come in 2020...
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TRS Resource Page and Upcoming Webinars

We can helpWant more information on TRS? Visit the TRS Resources page to view job aids, recorded demos, TPA information, and to sign up for upcoming webinars.

We have several webinars in September. Click the links below to sign up.

TRS Filing
TRS Responding
TRS Hearing (for TRS Arbitrators)
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Non-signatories and TRS

Image of toy cars in front of the scales of justiceBy October 1, 2019, TRS will become the exclusive platform for all automobile subrogation arbitration program cases, with the exception of cases involving non-signatories. On December 14, AF will be adding the ability for a signatory to file against a non-signatory or vice versa in TRS, including scenarios in which the non-signatory consents to arbitrate or the loss state mandates the use of intercompany arbitration through AF.

If you are filing as or against a non-signatory, please contact the Member Service Center at 1-866-977-3434 for instructions.
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TRS Self-Insured Filings

Image of two cars at an accidentSelf-Insured filers in OLF typically use the Affirmative Pleading section to provide their liability carrier’s information in the event the adverse party files a counterclaim for its damages. In TRS, the self-insured filer will see new fields to help gather that information.
  1. The self-insured filer will indicate, when applicable, that no liability policy was in effect. This means the self-insured did not provide a liability policy, not that one did not exist at all.
  2. The self-insured filer will then indicate if they know who does hold the liability policy or provide their liability coverage. 
    • If yes, then the liability carrier will be added. The liability carrier will only become a party if/when a counterclaim is filed.
    • If no, the self-insured filer will be asked to confirm its entry as this will disallow the adverse party from adding their own damages, i.e. counterclaim. The adverse party will need to submit a separate filing against the liability carrier once identified.
 Image of the counterclaim response assertions screen
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TRS Deferments Resource Now Available

Letter blocks spelling out the word news sitting on top of a stack of newspapersIn anticipation of the release of Deferments on October 1, a resource is now available to view on the TRS Resource page. This resource is a step-by-step guide on the process of Deferments for both recovering and responding parties.
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Preserving Neutrality, Privacy, and Confidentiality

Image of a lock over a keyboardObjectivity, neutrality, and confidentiality are the foundations of a credible arbitration system. All decisions must be based solely on the arguments made in the contentions and the evidence submitted by the parties to avoid any perception of bias on the part of the arbitrator. An effort should also be made to keep confidential all information that could be used to personally identify someone in the process.

In addition, an arbitrator must excuse himself/herself from hearing a case if he or she has a direct or indirect interest in the outcome (financial, business, personal, or professional). We also recommend that arbitrators excuse themselves from hearing a case that involves a prior co-worker or claim adversary if their decision could create an appearance of impropriety.

AF policies also help ensure the privacy and confidentiality of our membership's data. The Neutrality, Privacy, and Confidentiality statement reinforces to arbitrators that the information submitted by parties is private and confidential and may only be used to resolve the dispute. It may not be copied or printed or used for any other purpose.
Neutrality, Privacy, and Confidentiality Statement
This decision is according to my understanding of the current local law and the facts presented. I may not render a decision on a case where I or my company is directly or indirectly interested, or where there is even an appearance of bias. Also, I understand as an arbitrator I will have access to confidential material involving company and/or insured information. All information related to this case will be utilized for the sole purpose of rendering this decision. I agree to protect the privacy, security, and confidentiality of all information related to this case. I affirm that I have read and understand the above.
For these reasons, arbitrators acknowledge the Neutrality, Privacy, and Confidentiality Statement on each case they hear.

Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
AF policies prohibit the inclusion of PII when uploading evidence. PII can be defined as any information about an individual maintained by AF that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual‘s identity through a combination of the individual’s name and one or more of the following:
  1. Social security number
  2. Driver's license number or non-driver identification card number
  3. Account number, credit or debit card number, in combination with any required security code, access code, or password that would permit access to an individual's financial account
  4. Any information regarding an individual’s medical history, mental or physical condition, or medical treatment or diagnosis by a health care professional
  5. An individual’s health insurance policy number or subscriber identification number and any unique identifier used by a health insurer to identify the individual
PII does not include information about an individual that has been made publicly available by a federal, state, or local governmental entity. PII also does not include information that is encrypted, secured, or modified by any other method or technology that removes elements that personally identify an individual or that otherwise renders the information unusable.
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Filing without Global Email Addresses

Image of a woman typing on a laptopEffective October 1, parties filing in TRS will be prompted to enter a mailing address for their own party and/or any responding parties that have no global email address on file.

For filing parties without a global email address:
  • The user will need to enter a mailing address for their own party. The system will remember the address for future use.
For parties filing against another party that does not have a global email address:
  • A mailing address will need to be entered for that party. The address is not saved in TRS and users will need to enter an address each time they file against that same party.
AF will continue to be proactive in obtaining global email addresses for all TRS member companies.
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Adding Evidence during Damage Dispute Revisit

Image of a magnifying glass over an evidence documentIn response to member feedback, we are pleased to announce that, effective October 6, 2019, recovering parties will have the ability, during a revisit, to attach new evidence to rebut a responder’s damage dispute. Previously the recovering party could only reference previously attached evidence.
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System Maintenance, December 2019

Image of a maintenance icon on a keyboardAF is scheduled to perform system maintenance and upgrades. As a result, AF's website will be unavailable from 9:00 p.m. Eastern on Friday, December 6, 2019, to 6:00 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, December 8, 2019.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our members. AF is committed to continuously enhancing our products and services. We thank you for your continued support.
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