If you have been in an accident and were injured, the insurance company magically comes up with a dollar amount to pay for your injury, pain and suffering. Often that number seems low and doesn’t even cover your medical bills. Clients ask how did they come up with that number?
Insurance companies use a computer program called Colossus to value your accident claim. Colossus is a piece of software that about 25 auto insurance companies use to determine how much to pay people who are in accidents. The claims adjuster inputs codes describing your injury (Approximately 600 possible codes) and the computer comes up with the value the insurance company should pay out for the injury.
When it comes to paying claims, insurance companies goal is to minimize their losses. This can be accomplished by simply reducing payments paid out per accident. It is widely believed that Colossus is designed to "minimize payout variance" which means that your particular injury isn’t treated as unique to you and is combined into a number along with anyone who has suffered your type of injury in a car accident. You aren’t treated as an individual and there is little consideration of the pain, and suffering you’ve been through. It does not take in to consideration anything that has to do with the human experience.
Colossus is only as good as the adjuster who inputs the data. If the adjuster uses an incorrect code, or overlooks a significant injury code for the type of injury you’ve received, the settlement amount could be significantly reduced. Many insurance companies are using Colossus as not the starting point for negotiations, but as the final amount they’re willing to cover.
It is also widely believed that Colossus has listings of attorneys who are willing to take insurance companies to court if an inferior offer is presented, and uses that data to come up with a number that might be more acceptable to an attorney. It is also widely believed that Colossus maintains a record of lawyers who won’t take a case to court, and settlement offers may also be adjusted accordingly. Colossus may also adjust settlement offers according to the jurisdiction of where the accident occurred, which has nothing to do with your injury, or your pain and suffering. Often the only consideration is how much they can get away with in terms of keeping the settlement low.
Who Uses Colossus?
Almost all insurance companies have some sort of software that figures out adjustments like Colossus, but who exactly has Colossus is hard to say, and most insurance companies aren’t forthcoming. However, Allstate is one of the primary users of the software. It is also believed that Aetna, Farmers, Hartford, Travelers, USAA, MetLife, CNA, Erie, Ohio Casualty, Metropolitan, and Zurich use Colossus or some version of it.