Canadian Underwriter

Forensics field changing as needs are changing

February 5, 2009   by Canadian Underwriter

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Insurance companies should be looking to hire multi-disciplinary forensic companies as a way to save money time and resources, adjusters heard at an annual association conference.
Jamie Catania, principal at Giffin Koerth Inc., discussed the increasingly specialized nature of forensics at the Ontario Insurance Adjusters’ Association 2009 Professional Development & Claims Conference.
Forensics has moved well beyond the days when an insurance company could hire a jack-of-all-trades expert who could wear a fire investigation hat one day, an accident reconstruction hat on another and discuss injury potential on the third, he said.
“The field is developed and each discipline is getting more and more complex,” requiring more technological know-how, Catania said. “You really do need to focus on one area if you want to maintain a real proficiency.”
In order to offer the depth of expertise required, as well as answer the detailed questions insurers are now asking, forensics firms are expanding to include multiple experts under one banner.
Catania noted this is a very different kind of “multi-disciplinary” business model than one appearing in the United States. South of the border, some forensics companies appear to be multidisciplinary firms, but they are in fact referral agencies or call centres that simply direct insurers to independent experts located in a bordering town or state.
There are many benefits to having all forensic experts under one roof, including the opportunity for all key players involved in an ongoing investigation to be able to talk at a moment’s notice, Catania noted.
Furthermore, the ultimate price of hiring a multi-disciplinary firm will be lower than if an insurer hires a sole practitioner, he said. This is in part because a larger firm is able to delegate certain tasks to others within the organization instead of paying the top expert to handle the entire project at one (high) price.