Motor-accident investigation goes hi-tech
Technology is now available to the local motor insurance industry to reconstruct accident scenes and, therefore, make the investigation of claims more precise.
In a bid to modernise the investigation of claims, the new information technology platform, which involves an accident scene reconstruction software, is being promoted within the industry of about 150 firms, by the Loss Adjusters Association of Jamaica (LAAJ).
The association represents about 60 loss adjusters.
"The old method works but does not accurately depict who is at fault," David McKay, president of the LAAJ said of the traditional investigation methods to determine liability in an accident.
"With the accident reconstruction software, it is easier to determine who is at fault in a more scientific way."
Vice-president with responsibility for insurance investigation, Mike Webster, noted that traditional investigations depend on the written word.
"The normal investigation process over the years, to prove a claim, is that the investigator would come to you and take a statement and produce a witness - just by the written word," he said.
The association is now implementing a training programme for staff of its member companies to get them up to speed on the use of the software.
"What we are trying to do through the association is to bring about improvement in the investigative field of insurance claims," Webster explained.
He pointed out that with the application of the technology used in the reconstruction of accident scenes, claim liability can be more accurately determined without reliance on only a written statement.
Webster, whose firm, Advanced Insurance Adjusters Limited, is the only company which now applies accident technology in the field, said that by using the software, investigators are able to apply considerations of time, speed and distance in order to provide insurance companies with more precise information.
"Using data on road incline, length, width and embankment, a process of modelling of the accident scene is done to produce court-ready diagrams, illustrating how the vehicles involved in an accident might have moved into impact", the LAAJ vice president said.
The software package is not a 'one size fits all' prescription, the insurance industry officials have pointed out, and can be obtained and utilised with varying levels of investment.
A functional system, it is said, can be installed for as little as US$1,000 but could cost as much as US$15,000 depending on the levels of functionality companies require as well as based on their budgets.
For motor-insurance staff to utilise and apply the system, they require training in disciplines such as mathematics, physics, forensic animation and simulation, as well as other subject areas relevant to accident reconstruction and investigation, the LAAJ representatives have advised.
"LAAJ is actually in the throws of setting up a curriculum to be used in the training process in applying this technological method of investigating through the College of Insurance and HEART/NCTVET," Webster said.
Loss Adjusters act as advisers to insurance firms in the settlement of insurance claims. The LAAJ represents motor and non-motor adjusters and insurance investigators.
The association recently marked its 20th anniversary and its executive members said the body has embarked on a drive to raise public awareness about the role of insurance adjusters and investigators.
The LAAJ is said to be also involved in other initiatives to improve service delivery by its members. These steps include the establishment of a standardised method for determining market values for motor vehicles.
"This is to ensure that all members are on par with one another in order to mitigate the large disparities in some valuations," said David Mendez, the vice-president for the motor side of the LAAJ's operations.
According to Mendez, disparities are as high as 30 per cent at present.
Discussions are also said to be taking place among property adjusters in the LAAJ aimed at agreeing on standardised construction rates used in settling claims involving damage to buildings.