Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Denial Not Just A River in Egypt

I did a presentation a week or so ago to a meeting sponsored by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. I spoke on Workers Compensation insurance (what else--quantum mechanics?) In passing, I mentioned the error rate we see year in and year out--that we find significant overcharges in the range between one-third to one-half of the Workers Comp insurance programs we review.

I was careful to point out that this doesn't mean that one-third to one-half of all policies contain overcharges. Because when we check over WC premiums for clients, we normally are reviewing several years worth of policies. Typically we might find an error in one or two years, but not all the years we are reviewing.

But even so, an insurance company representative who was at the meeting sent an email in response, suggesting that I had greatly exaggerated this error rate. He said that if this error rate was truly this high, it would be scandalous and surely by now someone would have filed a class action lawsuit over it.

I certainly agree, it is scandalous that this error rate is so high. As I often say, in a perfect world I should have to do something else for a living. But it's not a perfect world, so I get to make my living correcting all the mistakes that the insurance industry makes. What can I say, I enjoy my work, and the insurance industry seems determined to keep me busy for the rest of my working life. Heck, there's even a second generation now working in this field, as my son Scott joined the firm more than six years ago.

His class action suggestion is interesting, but perhaps a little misleading. The errors we find are very diverse. It's not as if the insurance industry is repeatedly making the exact same error on a wide scale--it's a whole universe of different errors, involving different classifications, experience mods, and payroll audit errors.

So it's not really the kind of thing that would actually lend itself to a class action.

However, I also have to say that we're actually in discussions about a possible class action against the insurance industry, because we have found a particular widespread error that does appear to lend itself to a class action. More than that, I cannot say at this time, but stay tuned.