August 2021 E-Bulletin

This month's E-Bulletin topics include:

  1. Redesigned Website Coming This Fall
  2. Reminder: Updates to AF’s Arbitration Rules
  3. Coming Soon to TRS!
  4. Insights: Damage Disputes
  5. Preserving Neutrality, Privacy, and Confidentiality

Redesigned Website Coming This Fall

Coming SoonWe are excited to announce that we are currently redesigning our website at www.arbfile.org and will be releasing it this fall.

In addition to a more modern look and feel, the new site employs a responsive design to give visitors a great experience regardless of the device they are using to browse it. We’re also adding new features to make it easier for users to find tutorials, information, and resources. See a sneak peek of the new site. The content in the previews is not final and serves as a placeholder for the design. 

Keep an eye out for more information as we get closer to launch!
 
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Reminder: Updates to AF’s Arbitration Rules

Illustration of a person standing next to a clipboard holding a pencilEarlier this year, AF’s Member Council and Board of Directors approved the following updates to the arbitration rules. The changes became effective August 1, 2021.

The changes have been bolded. 

Rule 1-4
  • For new Auto filings and TRS PIP and Medical Payments filings, the Recovering Party should name all involved member companies and any consenting non-member companies, if applicable, in the filing. A responding company may add other parties and/or argue the negligence of unnamed party(ies). Where the negligence of an unnamed party(ies) is argued, the Recovering Party may either withdraw its filing and re-file at a later date, or pursue recovery outside of intercompany arbitration, or allow the filing to be heard. By allowing the filing to be heard, the Recovering Party thereby agrees to accept any award against a responding company and waive its right to pursue any balance directly from any unnamed party.

Rule 2-4
  • If a Denial/Disclaimer of Coverage is being pled (see definition of Denial/Disclaimer of Coverage [b]), the party will be ruled out of jurisdiction so long as a copy of the denial/disclaimer of coverage letter to the party seeking liability coverage for the loss is provided as part of the evidentiary material submitted. If no such letter is provided or where the denial concerns concurrent coverage (Article First [b], Special Arbitration Agreement), the case will be heard and the arbitrator(s) will consider and rule on the coverage defense.

Rule 3-9
  • A responding company may assert the coverage defenses of no liability policy in effect, denial of coverage, policy limits, or liability deductible/SIR via AF’s website up to 60 calendar days from the decision publication date and a minimum of 60 calendar days before the statute of limitations expires. 

    A copy of the denial of coverage letter to the party seeking coverage for the loss or proof of Policy Limits or Liability Deductible/SIR must accompany the inquiry or no action can be taken.
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Coming Soon to TRS!

Coming SoonConcurrent Coverage/Priority of Payments
AF is excited to announce that members will soon be able to file Concurrent Coverage/Priority of Payments recovery cases in TRS. This is part of our continued effort to enhance TRS and deliver maximum value to our members. By filing in TRS, members will be able to leverage the user-friendly and intuitive user interface and reduced cycle times. 

Policy Limits Enhancements
AF will soon be delivering enhancements to the Policy Limits functionality in TRS! Our members will be able to distinguish exposures outside of a case based on whether they are ‘Paid’ or ‘Unpaid’ exposures. This will give users the ability to clearly specify the nature of their exposures and provide accurate information for the hearing process. This functionality will enable the arbitrator to provide clear and well-reasoned decisions when the case goes to hearing. 

Screenshot of the Additional Exposures section
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Insights: Damage Disputes

Image of a damaged blue carAF continues to perform detailed reviews of published Auto decisions in TRS in order to find actionable insights to improve the quality of filings, responses, and decisions going forward. Our most recent targeted review took a detailed look at damage disputes. 

First, we looked at whether or not the damage decisions and awards aligned with the arguments and evidence. We found that arbitrators are doing a great job in this area. We also reviewed for indicators as to whether there is a benefit to using external versus internal damage experts for damage reductions. Our review found that the difference in whether or not a reduction in damages is granted is very small.

The biggest impact comes from the specificity of the dispute and the arguments. Specific disputes would be something particular to the vehicle, i.e., fender repair time or part usage. Specific arguments are unique, well-thought-out arguments relating to the subject vehicle, as opposed to copying and pasting from an audit or generic argument. Using the part usage example, a specific argument would be that a parts search was performed and an alternative part was located within a reasonable distance of the shop during the repair time frame. Specificity in the argument and dispute were twice as likely to garner a reduction when paired with supporting evidence as compared to more generic disputes and arguments.
 
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Preserving Neutrality, Privacy, and Confidentiality

Image of a gavel in front of booksObjectivity, 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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