How to Reduce Appeals of Deductions in Legal Bills

In working with insurers who have established legal bill review (LBR) programs, one thing comes across loud and clear. And that is the inordinate amount of time it took in the initial stages of their program to handle appeals.

While appeals should lessen with time as a LBR program matures and panel attorneys settle into the process, there is a learning curve to get to that point.  To get you to that point, here are some points to consider. Continue reading

Who’s Got Your Back for Legal Bill Reviews?

What’s your back-up plan when someone leaves or workloads suddenly increase?

For many reasons, many companies, both large and small, have gone to a dedicated legal bill review unit (LBRU) to handle legal bill reviews (LBR). Whether your LBRU is just one or two professionals or a large team of professionals, you need to have a back-up plan in place to implement when someone leaves the unit or is out on an extended leave or workloads dramatically increase. Unfortunately, such things can happen very suddenly and with little notice.

Legal bill review is more art than science and it is a learned art that takes both time and practice to perfect.

Many claims functions can be easily transferred among other claims professionals when a team member leaves. Reviewing legal bills is not one of those immediately interchangeable functions – at least not if you want to watch your claims legal expense soar.

Even large LBRUs can be stretched when someone leaves the unit. The effect on a small unit can be devastating as they have very few options to consider when someone leaves the LBRU. In fact, I can only think of two options that could be implemented while a new LBR professional is hired or trained from within the department. These two options are: stretch out the review period to accommodate the time restraints of remaining staff and/or outsource LBR on a temporary basis (see more below). Continue reading

A Better Alternative to Taking “Quick Pay” Discounts

     On February 28, I posted a piece entitled “Are’ Quick Pay’ Discounts Really Worth Anything?” I wrote that despite the seeming win-win allure of quick pay discounts, they can actually be lose-lose propositions.  Here is why.

     Attorneys universally hate having up to 3% to 5% of their bills cut just to have the insurer pay their bills in 14 days or less which is what many “quick pay” discount programs promise.  No wonder that some attorneys look for ways to get back that lost money.  If you do not think that many attorneys are not trying to reinsert the lost money back into their bills, think again. 

     From the insurers’ perspective, taking up to a  discount in legal bills can actually wind up costing  more money than the intended savings.  For one, discounts can promote more, not less bill padding (see above paragraph).  Also quality control  problems can arise when reviewers are focused (and measured) on not only on trying to accurately review bills, but also to get them out the door in 10-14 days of receipt. 

     Compounding the quick turn-around problem is the fact that legal bills do not come in for review in even increments.  That is, there are peaks and valleys.  Adding to the problem is the issue of availability of staff not only during “normal” periods, but peak periods as well.  Remember that staff often has a habit of taking vacations or being ill or resigning at the least opportune times.  Because of staffing issues, bills during peak periods may get inadequate scrutiny before they are pushed out the door just to to meet the deadline to take a prompt pay discount.

     The alternative?  Continue reading

It’s About Time: Outing Attorneys on Travel Time

In its model litigation guidelines, the CLM recommends paying attorneys at only 1/2 their hourly rate for any travel time.  Many companies have either adopted this specific recommendation or pay attorneys for travel time at a reduced rate.

Not unpredictably, many attorneys have complained about the reduced compensation for travel time.  Their argument goes that if they were not traveling for the client at a reduced hourly rate, they would be in their office billing other clients at their full hourly rate.

On the surface, one would think that attorneys have a valid argument.  However, a little digging below the survey reveals that their argument is not at all valid. Continue reading