I met Colossus when I worked as a personal injury paralegal. I became even better acquainted with this computer program after I set up the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) department at the law firm where I worked. Within a short period of time, I had figured out which keywords and CPT codes were accepted and which were rejected. However this did not guarantee that the claim would be paid. It was my job to wrangle with the insurance adjuster in the event that Colossus rejected a valid claim, which was often. I once drafted a complaint for 24 cents because the insurance adjuster was rude. Yep, 24 cents. The attorney who signed the complaint laughed but I was able to get $2,100 in attorney’s fees plus the 24 cents and our court costs from the insurance company before any court appearances.
Allstate always had a reputation of not settling claims. It became common practice to file a lawsuit as soon as we signed up a client where the tortfeasor’s insurance company was Allstate. Anyway, below is the story of Colossus as told by an insider.
Mark Romano gripped the steering wheel and tried to keep his car from swerving into another commuter on the busy Illinois tollway.
Computers, hurricanes and your insurance bill
Hurricane Hugo in 1989 not only was a defining event in South Carolina’s history but also marked the beginning of a major period of change in international insurance circles. After Hugo and then Hurricane Andrew in 1992, insurers sought new ways to put numbers on the costs of future catastrophes. That led to the creation of controversial and largely secret “catastrophe models,” which use the tracks of past hurricanes and other data. These catastrophe models predicted much higher costs, which insurers use to justify higher rates on the coast.
“God, please don’t let me hurt someone,” he prayed.
Dizzy again. These bouts of vertigo were barely noticeable at first, but something else was going on now. At night, he would lie in his bed, stare at the ceiling and watch everything twirl. In the morning, the spells came in waves during his commute to Allstate’s national headquarters in suburban Chicago.
It was December 2007, and Romano was a senior manager at Allstate and its top expert in Colossus, a program that calculates how much a person might be paid for an injury claim. He was in charge of two projects to “tune” and “recalibrate” Colossus, work he knew could affect payments to thousands of people.
Colossus was part of a quiet revolution in the insurance industry.