Back in Session
A preview of Claims College’s School of Claims Mediation
By Eric Gilkey
CLM’s Claims College opens its doors for another year of education beginning on Sept. 4, 2019, in Baltimore. With 10 schools spanning most business lines and education areas—seven of which require three years of attendance to earn the Certified Claims Professional (CCP) designation—Claims College continues to push its higher education goals. We spoke with Dean Rachel Ehrlich to find out what students can expect from this year’s School of Claims Mediation.
How long have you been involved with the School of Claims Mediation?
The School of Claims Mediation was first offered in 2015, so this year will be its fifth year. I’ve served as one of two deans of the school since its inception. The Executive Council that first year did a phenomenal job of using what the working group had conceived and with the 2015 faculty put together the essentials of the curriculum that we have today.
How has that curriculum changed over the years?
Based on feedback from students, the curriculum has evolved to include more hands-on mediated negotiation experiences in the form of role playing. This highly interactive approach gives the students a place to experiment with negotiation techniques and other ways to leverage mediation. Months and years after they have taken the classes, students come up to me at other CLM events and tell me that they are still using concepts and techniques that they learned at our school.
Who enrolls in the School of Mediation?
Like all of the one-level schools, the School of Claims Mediation teaches a subject that applies to many different lines of business, so students who handle multiple lines can go through the program and get something that applies to their areas of work. Students run the gamut from those who have just a few years of experience handling claims to tenured claims professionals who have participated in hundreds of mediations and have resolved thousands of claims.
Is there anything about mediation that claims professionals typically need more education on?
It is less something that claims professionals are missing or need education on, and more that everyone involved in mediation needs to keep in mind that mediation is a process, not an event. Mediation used to be an event, but that has changed over the past 20 years. Mediation became an expected part of the litigated claims resolution process because courts started sending people to mediation earlier in the life of a lawsuit, claims loads increased on claims professionals, and caseloads increased on attorneys. The value of the process depends on preparation, so knowing where a matter that is being mediated is in the process of developing information needed to make sufficiently informed and documentable decisions alters what one does with and within mediation.
What insurance and litigations trends from the plaintiff’s side are you seeing in mediations?
The plaintiff’s side is interested in early resolution, so the plaintiffs’ lawyers who put together a thorough package of the case understand that the audience whose attention they need to get is the insurance claims professional. The thorough package that includes such things as reconstruction videos or a preview of the plaintiff’s expert report is not economically possible in smaller matters. We are seeing earlier offers of judgment by plaintiffs in smaller cases, and often the offer of judgment has expired long before mediation.
What do you hope students take away from this year’s event?
Each year, we hope that students leave with actionable tips on using mediation that make them better informed consumers of the process.