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Private Detectives and Social Networks and claims Investigations


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Back in the days private detectives did not have any internet, cell phones and would carry suitcases and e-mail had yet to replace inter-office memos. But somehow, we managed to get by using the relatively scarce resources available at the time. The key to success was a combination of intuition, tact and perseverance, where significant time was spent knocking on doors, canvassing witnesses and searching for the truth. If it was suspected that a claim was a fraud, there was no such thing as link analysis technology to validate the hypothesis. Rather, clues had to be gathered and put together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Prior injuries and unrelated vehicle weren’t readily identifiable, but nosy neighbors and bitter exes made the job a little bit easier. Skip tracing was a manual process and the local sheriff proved to be an invaluable ally when trying to enforce judgments.

Twenty years and these things seem so routine. With the click of a mouse, we can locate people, assets, jobs, personal property and an array of other things that make investigating claims a little easier with the help of effective investigation. As discussed technology, along with people and processes, serve as a basic foundational element to any organization. But, technology can also be used as a crutch to try and explain away organizational gaps, breakdowns or failures.

People are the most crucial element in any successful endeavor. As a result, they must have the training and skills necessary to properly execute basic fundamentals. Technology should be considered nothing more than a tool to make them better at what they do.

Technology, in particular social networking, can also be a distraction to those not properly trained and monitored on utilization. Certainly seeing the injured party with “significant limitations related to the accident” live on YouTube in some type of contradictive behavior can add significantly to an investigation. That being said, employees chatting on Facebook about plans for the weekend does not serve to improve organizational quality.

The key to successful utilization of technology begins with management where expectations guide organizational calibration.

According to a study, employees spend an average of two hours per day on the Internet. This can be good, bad or somewhere in between, depending on what they are actually doing. Aside from the potential for wasted time, unrestricted Internet access can open the network to viruses, spyware and other security problems.

From a claims professional vantage point, there are a number of online applications that can assist with many aspects of the claims process. Social networking can give insight into the behavior of claimants, automotive and property sites can be used to assist with the valuation process, internet based investigative resources can help root out fraud, weather resources can identify historical climate data and the list goes on.

Perhaps more than anything, claims leaders should recognize that the online experience will serve to make their best employees much more efficient, while bogging down their worst employees with distractions.

The great employee will use the Internet to dig deeper, seeking out answers to questions not yet even asked by the marginal employee.

While the Internet cannot replace basic blocking and tackling, introspection and intuition, it can be a great resource.

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