Are you really locked into a “preferred” vendor Records Retrieval relationship?

Many insurance carriers ask their outside law firm to use their “preferred” vendor of choice when it comes to picking a Records Retrieval company. The law firm may find that problems arise when they are required to work with a vendor that does not provide service that is up to the firm’s usual standards when requesting records. There is good news: law firms may have other options.

It is important to clear up if the use of the “preferred” vendor is required of the law firm or simply a suggestion. If the relationship is actually just preferred, law firms can ask to use their vendor of choice by submitting a request to the insurance company with applicable reasons. These appeals will often be granted, saving law firms the hassle of working with a vendor not of their choosing, which may not provide the level of service needed. If the partnership is required, law firms still should request their vendor of choice if they have good reason.

Many law firms have communicated that they would prefer to use their Records Retrieval vendor of choice for the following reasons:

  • Faster turnaround of requests. Often the national agreements that insurance carriers negotiate with records vendors result in lower levels of service, which increase the turnaround time for obtaining records. We have heard from multiple clients over the years that the typical preferred vendor does not follow up when additional information is required to complete the requests. When follow-up does occur, the requests are often made by email or efax, neither of which have the efficiency of a direct call to the custodian.
  • Even though the prices of some line items on an invoice may be lower with a preferred vendor, it is important to look at the overall invoice cost. Companies often make their preferred vendor choices based on invoice line items such as Subpoena – Issuing of the Request or per-page costs, and additional line items are often added after the records are obtained, which may ultimately result in minimal or no savings.
  • Cost and/or consequences of not receiving records with the required time frame. Saving $10 on the Subpoena – Issuing of the Request pales in comparison to the cost the clients may incur when a settlement or court date is scheduled but not all requested records have been obtained. In one recent matter we know of, the preferred vendor was unable to obtain records from a facility the law firm knew were crucial to settlement negotiations. The request was sent to the law firm’s primary vendor in hopes of obtaining the records before negotiations began. The records were obtained, and the resultant settlement was reduced by a significant amount.

Is there a benefit to being required to use a preferred vendor when obtaining records for a legal matter?

With so many decisions being driven by cost, it is easy to understand why insurance carriers believe they are negotiating better prices to improve their bottom line. Hidden costs and the lack of service levels required by the law firm combined with the risk of not receiving records in a timely manner can make preferred vendor relationships a challenge. Law firm professionals should negotiate with their clients to use a Records Retrieval vendor they trust that will ultimately provide the best possible results.

Contact us to start a records order now.