Executive Update

Inside the GMA Claims Program

The GMA Claims Program is a unique industry-leading program that integrates both GMA’s claims management expertise and technical and laboratory functions in order to assist members with handling their product liability claims.

This program handles approximately 1,000 claims each year, saving members–and other companies involved with the consumer packaged goods industry–substantial money, time, and resources.

The claims program offers three types of claims support services to member companies:  laboratory analysis, non-litigated claim handling, and litigation management. 

Laboratory analysis: GMA’s state-of-the-art food forensic laboratory is equipped to perform a wide range of diagnostic, nondestructive tests,  from foreign object identifications to bacteriological analysis, that are used in investigating a claim. Testing usually takes about two-three weeks from receipt of a sample to completion of the final report, however when a rush analysis is needed the results are usually available within 3 days. These results allow member companies to determine whether a claim against a product is valid or not.

Non-litigated claim handling:  The claims program offers full handling of non-litigated claims, often referred to as “third party administrator” (TPA) services.  This involves conducting a full investigation of the claim while dealing directly with claimants or their attorneys.  Upon completion, the program reviews all relevant information to make a recommendation to the company on how to resolve it. Once a course of action is agreed upon, the program then seeks to achieve the desired resolution of the claim.

Litigation management: When a product liability action has been filed against a company, the program will work with the member and defense counsel to oversee all stages of litigation. The claims program will oversee every step of the litigation process, from answering (or challenging) the initial complaint through the end of trial or even an appeal of the decision. The program has a national network of defense attorneys that it uses to defend these lawsuits, many of which offer preferred rates when the company is referred through GMA.

“When we handle a claim on behalf of a member company, we view ourselves as an extension of that company’s staff.  This goes beyond merely being professional with claimants and attorneys. We always keep the company’s best interests in mind, particularly protecting its brand,” said Steve Leslie, senior manager of the claims program.

In addition to providing claims support to member companies, the Claims Program also puts on multiple conferences and webinars each year. The program’s signature event is its annual Food Claims & Litigation Conference, which brings together both in-house and outside counsel in the CPG industry to focus on a wide array of litigation and related issues. The 2012 conference will take place from February 21-23 at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Nigel in Dana Point, California.