|King’s Two Claims Kingdoms—Forensics and CCC|
By Robert Warne - March 12, 2002
“If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit!” exclaimed dream team defense attorney Johnny Cochran to the jury in the O.J. Simpson trial. The glove represented one tiny, but crucial piece of evidence forensic specialists analyzed in the case. Forensics was nothing new in 1994, but the nationally televised trial introduced many Americans, for the first time, to the power and potential of forensics.
Forensic pioneer William King Sr., and the father of the Combined Claims Conference (CCC), understood early on the power of forensics, and seized the opportunity of a lifetime.
In 1977 he found himself standing before a technical crossroads of claims and science. King knew that the same forensic principles applied to evidence in criminal cases could also be effectively implemented to deal with many claims. Scientific formulas and principles of engineering were the keys that could lock out any doubt surrounding a claim.
In technical circumstances, the application of forensics to a claim would reveal the truth, or as King would say, “the bottom line.” For example, using biometrics, an expert could determine if injuries from a particular slip and fall claim were consistent with the laws of science. Or if a soft-tissue injury claim contradicted the force exerted from a loose ball at a little league game.
The concept of introducing forensics to the world of claims was revealed to King by an engineer to whom he used to sell drives and motors. The business model fit King like glove. With his technical background as a Seabee electrician coupled with his marketing abilities he was the perfect candidate to transform such an idea into reality.
At the company’s first meeting, King found himself sitting before a room full of engineers and scientists. Each had a specific area of expertise. At that time King realized what he was about to embark on and was prompted to exclaim, “We are going to have a great impact on the world of forensics and claims.” From thus he named his business, Impact General.
From its subtle beginning, Impact General grew beyond just a business that united the disciplines of science and engineering under one roof tackling technical claims. The company has branched out to become a provider of loss control services and it has grown into a major educational establishment through its National Institute of Forensic Studies (NIFS).
Currently, Impact General has offices in northern and southern California, Washington, Arizona, Nevada and Texas.
If You Educate Them, They Will Come
“When I started peddling Impact General, people didn’t know what forensics was, so I started educating them,” said King. He would hold training sessions in three different rooms at a time on topics of general liability, auto, and property.
A unique part of Impact General’s service is that, “We follow up with the expert through the process and we also edit the expert’s reports in lay terms,” explained King. This is to eliminate any confusion that might arise in the examination process or the final technical analysis.
This was a big mistake made by the forensic specialist in the Simpson case said King. He had the opportunity to meet the forensic witness and bluntly told him, “You blew the case. You talked in technical terms, way over everyone’s head. How was the jury supposed to know what you were talking about?”
“Often adjusters and lawyers have a case they feel strong about and they call us in. We may be called into court to testify or provide depositions,” said King. “When we’re called in we tell it like it is. There are no variables to the truth.
“The adjuster has his role, and the attorney has his, but forensics is the bottom line—and that’s a great responsibility,” said King.
Currently King’s son, William King II, is the president of Impact General. He has continued to run Impact General based on his dad’s philosophy that “applying science & technology with a businesslike approach is the key to forensic success.”
King II said NIFS provides seminars on technical issues that affect the outcome of claims. Specifically he said, “The training is for adjusters and attorneys on issues concerning cause of failures and loss, such as construction defects, product/component failures, biomechanics of injury, code compliance, safety, collision reconstruction principles, etc.”
The rapid advancement of science and technology has generated a broad spectrum of claim technicalities. NIFS’ mission is to keep those involved in handling claims abreast of the modern claims complexities.
“Our objective is to raise the awareness of the adjuster and attorney on these issues so they are more able to recognize liability, subrogation potential, comparative negligence, and fraud. In addition, the attendee will gain a conceptual understanding and terminology involving such issues to better articulate to their customer and other parties for more effective resolution of the claims process,” explained King II.
King’s original three classroom training sessions were the model for NIFS and the inspiration for the CCC.
The Inception of The Combined Claims Conference
King’s enthusiasm for training and education is evident in his dedication to the CCC, now in its 14th year.
In 1987 he pitched his idea for the conference to 300 claims professionals from the Southern California Adjuster Association.
“It was my year to plan our annual claims dinner and I suggested to the group that we make it into an educational event and support it with a trade show.”
The annual event was usually a dinner and a speaker, so King was going out on a limb to propose something that would expand the annual affair. “If seven hands went up, I knew I was doing good,” said King. Just as he expected, there wasn’t much response, but he went ahead with the plan anyway.
The conference is put together with all volunteers. A committee made up of professionals from within the claims industry organizes the event. What money is raised goes right back into the conference.
King believes that quality education and training opportunities should be available to all professionals affiliated with the insurance industry.
“Probably the biggest challenge of putting on the conference every year is making sure the subject matter is what people want to learn about.”
When asked why he has continued to put on the conference all of these years King said, “I don’t know, I guess I’m an educational nut. I just have the drive. It’s a very satisfying thing to walk around and see people learning.”
In 1995 King had a stroke and had to turn the conference reigns over to Dan Price. The stroke may have caused King to alter his schedule a bit, but it didn’t stop him from participating in things he enjoys. He is still involved as much as possible with CCC and is recognized as the chairman emeritus.
For 13 years the conference has brought together claims professionals who handle liability; property and casualty; workers’ compensation; SIU; legal and medical; self-insured and TPA claims.
King said, “It’s sharing the wealth—all the people benefiting from the conference is very satisfying. Somebody will use the info they learn at the conference someday. Each claims professional becomes a more well rounded individual for attending the conference.”
In King’s case the evidence is pretty strong. The glove of forensics and CCC definitely fits. All evidence considered, he is dedicated to educating claims professionals and for furthering the overall business of claims.