A good third party administrator is an important player in your plan to bring a settlement to closure as quickly and efficiently as possible. I would like to pass along some observations I’ve made about the role of a third party administrator based on my thirty-five years of experience in managing the resolution of complex disputes. Firstly, the responsibility as a Third Party Administrator of any settlement program is to fulfill four basic objectives:
- Ensure the accuracy of the data,
- Treat each claim in a fair and consistent manner,
- Collaborate for the prompt resolution of all matters, and
- Make every effort to control transactional costs.
Effective administration of any settlement program depends on the accuracy and integrity of the data that serves as the foundation of every important decision in the process. For this reason, it is critical to select a third party administrator with extensive experience in designing highly accurate systems and procedures for data and document collection, processing, and retention. Data management missteps are painful and costly to correct later, so avoid hiring someone who is going to learn on the job.
Effective settlement administration is a collaborative endeavor with many parties, and every collaboration is founded on trust. Building a foundation for trust demands fair and consistent treatment of all claimants. Every hint of inequitable treatment – intentional or not – carries with it the potential to draw out the settlement process and can even lead to costly litigation. Your third party administrator has a very important role to play in protecting the integrity of the process to minimize the risks of such disputes.
It is in the nature of all complex settlement plans that some form of disagreement or conflict will arise in the natural course. The goal of any knowledgeable administrator is to prevent these disagreements from becoming unsolvable obstacles to closure. Third party administrators must make certain that proactive processes are in place to surface potential disagreements early. This demands a proactive communication plan to manage the expectations of all parties, and to coordinate and cooperate with all participants to ensure that facts are gathered in a timely manner and a full and fair hearing is given to every perspective.
Finally, the main goal is to make sure that the assets of the settlement fund are preserved so that legitimate injured parties receive maximal compensation. A reputable Third Party Administrator should serve as a neutral, independent, and impartial operator responsible to all of the parties in the settlement. A high degree of integrity to the overall settlement process is required and non-negotiable.