The problem with asking clients or customers what they want is that most often than not, they don’t know.

And this is not because they are dumb or stupid, they’re not. It’s because they have a difficult time imagining what a real solution looks like.

It’s not their job to find a cure for their illness. If they could they would’ve done so by now. So don’t ask them to.

But even if by any chance, in a dull and uninspirational moment, you do ask them… their answer would only be a whisper of a real breakthrough. Not even close!

If you understand a process you can make a reasonable bet on a solution.

You can observe, research, study, and test the environment of the people you mean to contribute to.

Yes you’ll risk life and limb every time, but unless you’re willing to do so, you’ll never create anything meaningful.

We never knew whether Merge would work for sure or not. In theory we did, technically we understood the components.

Strategically we envisioned where all the pieces fit perfectly and in complete harmony.

At a human level we really empathized with our clients and not only felt their pain and anguish, but the pain an anguish of their clients.

Logistically we knew the terrain and all the players, and felt confident we could deliver a unique outcome and drive the claim cycle time from 30 days to 30 minutes.

…And nothing felt as harsh and humiliating as not delivering to expectations in the early stages.

But nothing felt as good or as real as implementing our solution on someone else’s environment, and watching our assumptions come true one by one over time.

Our approach was / is simple:

“Hey guys, if you’re the kind of company/people we made this for, then here’s what we made, and here’s what you can expect. Would you like to take it for a ride?”  -Seth Godin

This approach leaves very little ambiguity as far as what options on which to take action you give someone.

If and when they’re ready, their answer will be a YES or a NO.

But never a MAYBE.

If you would like to know how our innovative claim process can help you make effective real time decisions, maximize control and minimize costs relating to your claims. Click here to schedule a brief chat with me or David!

Would love to know your take on the topic, if you’d like to chat, once again you can set up a time right here.

I promise you this isn’t a post about the mathematical relationship between these two.

More like the personal relationship we each have with them, and as far as how this relationship goes, so goes our business and our lives.

We have a really messed up notion of time, and as a consequence money follows this worldview as well.

Let me explain…

The average American lives to 78 y/o.

If your Mom is 68 and you only see her twice a year, you don’t have her around for 10 years … not really!

You only have her for 20 more times or moments … that’s all!

When you realize you may see her only twenty more times, that kind of changes your perspective doesn’t it!

You can’t save up time and you can’t refuse to spend it.

You can’t stop it and come back to it later.

Either you’re spending your time intelligently, or your time is spending you indiscriminately.

The quality of that relationship is entirely up to you.

Same with money. Either it’s working for you or you’re working for it.

When we first started messing around with the idea of a 30 minute claim, we had to look at things from a completely different perspective.

The technology is here now, no doubt.

Believe it or not the 800 pound gorilla in the room wasn’t the tech, but the mindset to believe that it was conceivable to drop claim cycle time to an inconceivable level and back it up with time, money, and reputation.

But we believed it could be done, and at the time that was enough to get things moving.

If you’d like a tour of how we’re doing it, just click here , or call us to chat about it.

The market for something to believe in is infinite – Gapingvoid

And that’s all you really need. Something to believe in.

When everyone is doing the same thing at scale, that’s when you know something needs to change.

Standards were made to be de-standardized.

When we started there was no map, narrative template, or mentor to guide us.

All there was was a feeling that something wasn’t right with the way people were filing their claims and how carriers were processing them.

This feeling grew into an uncertain suspicion, and this grew into a certain reality, which was backed by David Milton’s 25 years of working experience as an insurance exec on all sides of the claims process.

An insurance policy is a promise, a promise as solid as government debt. The claims part of a policy is what people actually buy.

Why should the process be cumbersome for both the carrier and the policyholder?

After all, no claim gets better with age, and the only good claim is a closed claim! – @davidsmiltonRelated image

Why then has it taken so long for the relationship  between time and money in this context to really work?

Mostly human nature. We don’t like change.

The other barrier was technology, which is no longer a barrier.

So when you dare to think differently and the tech is no longer a problem you get Merge.


It takes 3 years to write a book.

Ten thousand hours to become an expert at anything.

A journey to Mars takes three hundred days.

It takes about 8 years to create a brand in the US.

And it currently takes 45-90 days to process a homeowner’s insurance claim.

Or does it?

Creating stuff that works takes time, but not in the way most of us think it does.

It’s not the sheer physicality or the daily grind that holds us back.

But you know what it might be?

Coordinating the work of many people in a purposeful and broken down manner.

Influencing others to buy into our dreams and ideas. This takes time, patience, and political capital sometimes.

Finding or creating the best way to get things done. The new path to anything looks like anything but a trail.

Nothing works the first time around. We must test, analyze and iterate constantly. Especially in the tech space.

This takes time.

Believing in ourselves in the face of so many odds takes even longer!

All part of the actual investment. The pre-work before the actual work.

No one thought breaking the 4 minute mile was possible until Roger Bannister did it in 1954 in 3:59.4.

Since then over 1,400 male athletes have done it.

I love this quote …

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come. ― Victor Hugo

And that time is here for claims in the insurance space.

There’s no single, acceptable, or really good reason for any claim to take longer than 30 minutes, given all the information has been funneled through the right system.

The stubbornness to simply refuse to accept the legacy-way claims are being processed is mainly the reason why today we are breaking the claims 4 minute mile barrier for the first time.

If you’d like a tour of how we’re doing it, just click here, or call us to chat about it.

But forget the numbers… here’s the lesson:

You can’t accept standards for the sake of standards… and when they don’t apply to our way of life anymore, then it’s time to change.

If you would like to know how our innovative claim process can help you make effective real time decisions, maximize control and minimize costs relating to your claims. Click here to schedule a brief chat with me or David!

Would love to know your take on the topic, if you’d like to chat, once again you can set up a time right here.


The New York Times

Catastrophe can arrive at your doorstep in any number of ways: A century-old tree could hit the roof, faulty wiring could spark a fire or a storm like Hurricane Harvey could unleash its fury and yours could be one of countless homes in its path.

Tragedy’s hand might be unpredictable, but the road to recovery is forged in the language of your homeowner insurance policy, words that will determine how — and if — you will be made whole again.

The disorienting months following disaster are often marked by endless Saturdays spent wandering the aisles of Home Depot; afternoons wasted on the phone arguing with your insurance company about the value of an Ikea crib; and critical decisions made at your most vulnerable hour. And all of this often happens while you are living in temporary housing, wondering if your life will ever return to something like normal.

For Ta-Kuang Chang, a 62-year-old lawyer from Pelham, N.Y., life came undone during a windstorm on a Sunday morning in January 2016. He was lying in bed texting his daughter when a 125-year-old tree from his yard crashed through his roof, landing just inches away. Trapped in his room, he waited for the fire department to free him.

Twenty months later, Mr. Chang is still waiting, mired in a protracted dispute with his insurance carrier over repair costs. The disagreement, partly of Mr. Chang’s own making, could leave him on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars and illustrates some challenges homeowners face in the wake of disaster. “I am so worried that I will, in the end, be screwed,” he said.

In 2015, 5.9 percent of insured homeowners filed a claim, with an average loss of $11,402, according to the Insurance Information Institute. How many claims come with headaches? A 2014 Consumer Reports survey found that of the six percent of respondents who filed claims for $30,000 or more, 41 percent reported complaints about things like disagreements over damages or coverage, delays or slow payouts.

“The bigger the claim, the more likely you’re going to run into more resistance from the company,” said Jeff Blyskal, a senior editor at Consumer Reports.

For homeowners facing what is often the biggest crisis of their lives, navigating a complex and sometimes resistant bureaucracy can be bewildering and exhausting.

Navigating the Aftermath

In hindsight, the smell of burning toast should have tipped off Suzanne Kaufman. But September 27, 2010, was a busy morning in the Kaufman home, a 100-year-old bungalow in Glen Rock, N.J. Ms. Kaufman, a medical social worker who is now 43, rushed out the door to take her 3-year-old to preschool while the babysitter fed the 18-month-old baby. “Looking back on it, there was nothing toasting,” she said.

In the few minutes it took to dash from her car to the classroom, Ms. Kaufman missed five calls from the babysitter. The baby was O.K. The house was on fire. Ms. Kaufman heard sirens in the distance and knew they were for her.

She returned home to watch the house that she and her husband, Matthew Kaufman, a lawyer who is now 44, had owned for 20 months burn. By late afternoon, the adjuster from the insurance company charged with assessing the damages was surveying the smoldering property. The loss was total.

“It was like, boom, your house is boarded up,” Ms. Kaufman said.

Vendors, like contractors and companies that remediate smoke, descended on the property. “People are slipping cards under your door, and you just don’t know what to do,” she said. “You are just freaking out.”

Among the business cards being pressed into your hands will be those of some public adjusters, independent insurance experts who can navigate the process for you, albeit for a hefty fee. In New York State, public adjusters can charge as much as 12.5 percent of your settlement. Ms. Kaufman did not see a need for one because at the time she wasn’t working, and she planned to dedicate her waking hours to the task of rebuilding her home. But some homeowners, particularly those with limited time, view a public adjuster as an advocate well worth the fee.

USAA, the family’s insurance carrier, had a list of preferred vendors. But were they the best ones? In the end, the Kaufmans decided to go with a contractor recommended by a family member.

The policy would rebuild the house to its original condition, but the Kaufmans thought maybe they should use this rebuilding to expand. Insurance, however, is intended to make you whole again, not bankroll a new addition. So how would they finance improvements? Contractors advised them to tear the house down to the foundation. USAA initially objected, but eventually relented, and the Kaufmans eventually moved into a much larger home. There was “a lot of negotiating every step of the way,” Ms. Kaufman said. “None of this just happens.”

Enduring a Natural Disaster

Suffer an isolated event, and chances are your insurance adjuster will arrive within a day. That equation changes if you suffer a loss during a natural disaster like a hurricane. Just getting anyone to show up can take days, or weeks.

“If you have a big catastrophe and the television cameras are around, the insurance companies are handing out checks for additional living expenses,” said J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America. But “when the big claims start to roll in, that’s when the trouble starts.”

On the night of October 29, 2012, as Hurricane Sandy bore down on New Jersey as a tropical storm, Casey Kait and Stephen Weiss struggled to convey the gravity of their situation to their insurance carrier, USAA. They had been putting their two young children to bed when a 100-year-old pin oak tree fell onto their four-bedroom home in South Orange. The family fled to a neighbor’s house, where they called 911 and USAA.

“It was Sandy, so they were getting calls from everywhere,” Ms. Kait, 41, a hiring manager, said of USAA. “They said, ‘We’ll send somebody in a week.’” (Mr. Weiss, 42, works in marketing.)

Days passed, and the family still had not seen an insurance adjuster. “I remember getting Mama Bear,” Ms. Kait said about one pivotal phone conversation with an agent. “I was like, ‘I have two young children and no house.’ ” That got the agent’s attention. Within an hour, an adjuster called, telling Ms. Kait that he would be at her door by 10 a.m. the next morning.

There was no small measure of haggling with insurance adjusters during the process, but nine months after the storm, Ms. Kait and her family moved back into a fully restored house.

Coverage Doesn’t Cover Everything

Standard insurance policies do not cover everything. Flood damage requires a separate policy usually backed by the National Flood Insurance Program, although a few private insurers provide it independently. Only about 12 percent of homeowners had flood insurance in 2016, according to the Insurance Information Institute, and most homeowners affected by Hurricane Harvey do not have flood coverage.

In 2015, water damage accounted for 45 percent of all property damage, according to the insurance institute, yet insurance policies often limit or exclude coverage for water-related damage from mold, a sump pump failure or a sewage backup.


“People worry about fires, which obviously make sense, but the reality is that water losses are 13 times more likely to occur,” said Annmarie Camp, an executive vice president at Chubb Personal Risk Services. “I know we’re in the middle of a hurricane, but it’s a very strong likelihood that homeowners will suffer an internal water leak.”

Unless your policy covers the replacement cost of your belongings, you might receive only a fraction of the money needed to buy a new sofa. About 60 percent of homes are underinsured, according to Consumer Reports.

You might also have to fight for payment even for losses that are covered. Ms. Kait and Mr. Weiss of South Orange argued with an adjuster about the extent of damage to some of their possessions. The adjuster thought furniture in the children’s rooms that had been covered in debris could be cleaned and reused. The couple disagreed. Overwhelmed by the tasks ahead, Mr. Weiss and Ms. Kait didn’t fight every battle. “To be honest, we let a lot of things go,” Ms. Kait said. “You don’t have time to go over every item in your life and fight about it when you’re trying to get your life back.”


Some battles can drag on for months.

More than a year and a half after a fallen tree made his Pelham home uninhabitable, Mr. Chang is still sparring with Travelers, his insurance carrier. The dispute hinges on competing estimates for repairs. Travelers estimated it would cost $224,000 to repair the home. An engineer that Mr. Chang hired estimated the work could cost as much as $808,000. The roof, chimney, second story and parts of the first floor needed to be rebuilt.

Typically, when the estimates don’t line up, the homeowner’s contractor hammers out a compromise with the insurance adjuster. But Mr. Chang instead invoked a formal resolution process known as appraisal, where both sides hire an independent appraiser and a mediator may be appointed to break an impasse. This process, however, can lengthen and complicate matters.

The case lingered, in part because Mr. Chang traveled frequently for work and was not able to monitor the appraisal process closely. After eight months of living in temporary housing paid for by Travelers, Mr. Chang withdrew his appraisal demand and tried to restart direct negotiations with Travelers, but Travelers opted to stick with the appraisal process.

To keep a dispute from escalating, consumer advocates suggest that homeowners navigate the insurance process with caution from the very first call until the final check is cut. “Start by trusting the company,” said Mr. Hunter, of the Consumer Federation. “But you do it warily, and you do it professionally.” Keep notes of conversations and copies of correspondence and receipts. If you run into trouble with the claims department, contact the public relations department. Hit enough roadblocks and you may need a lawyer.

Last October, Mr. Chang began rebuilding his house, despite having no resolution on the total amount that Travelers would pay. He paid for some of the $425,000 of work with a partial payment of around $185,000 from Travelers, and the rest with savings. “I’m not trying to be unjustly rich, I just want to make up what I’ve lost,” Mr. Chang said. “I just want to be made whole.”

Mr. Chang’s case has been further complicated by the fact that even though he was still living in an apartment paid for by Travelers, he rented his house in July to a tenant for $7,700 a month. The house was listed for rent in May when the work was completed as a “totally renovated Pelham Heights home,” according to Zillow. Mr. Chang said he needed the rental income to offset the money he put into the renovation. He said he plans to move out of the Travelers apartment later this month, into a vacant house in Port Chester, N.Y., that belongs to his mother.

Travelers estimates that it has paid nearly $500,000 to repair Mr. Chang’s home, replace damaged property and cover additional living expenses for his family, according to a statement from Matt Bordonaro, a Travelers spokesman. The case now is before a mediator whose decision will be binding.

Your Bank Has a Stake, Too

Even if your insurance carrier agrees to pay for home repairs, you may not see the money right away. If your home has a mortgage, checks for repairs to the dwelling will likely be made to both you and your lender. Your bank will often hold onto the money, dispensing it as the work is done, adding another layer of bureaucracy and, often, delay.

Nearly a year after fire destroyed his Glen Rock home, Mr. Kaufman marched into his mortgage lender’s office in Hoboken, N.J., demanding his insurance money. The bank would not release an $80,000 payment from the insurance company, for reasons that have not been made clear to Mr. Kaufman. But the work was nearly done and bills needed to be paid. “I had a large blowout with the bank president,” Mr. Kaufman said.

Rather than continue to fight with the bank, the Kaufmans borrowed $80,000 from Mr. Kaufman’s parents. Eventually, the bank released the money.

Becoming Whole Again

In a blog called “From Fire to Fabulous,” Ms. Kaufman chronicled her experience, starting with the day the house was torn down to the foundation. “We poured glasses of Korbel to mark the occasion,” she wrote.

Sixteen months after the fire, the Kaufman family moved back home. At 3,000 square feet, the new house is twice as large as the previous one, with an open floor plan, large kitchen and four large bedrooms. Mr. and Ms. Kaufman paid for the addition, about a third of the rebuilding cost, separately. “Everyone says, ‘Your house is amazing,’” Ms. Kaufman said. “But I really wouldn’t recommend going through this to anybody.”


TelaClaims is a technology company that focuses on streamlining the insurance industry’s claims process.

Our disruptive solution has a multi-prong approach to address several of the current issues in the industry. The adjuster shortfall, lack of a consistent work product, and moral hazard in the adjuster fee structure, coupled with reducing cycle times for all claims, both domestic and abroad, are our driving goals.

The net impact of these accomplishments will ultimately reduce policyholder premiums.

TelaClaims is forecasting an ongoing adjuster shortage, increased catastrophic events, and an industry that has been stagnant for far too long.  We are excited about the opportunity to usher insurance into the age of on-demand products and solutions.

TelaClaims will use our patent-pending technology to transform how claims are handled going forward. We employ and train millennials, X’s, and baby boomers alike; as each of their skillsets, when placed in the proper context, are invaluable.

It has been predicted that there will be a growing need for quality trained adjusters, yet only 4% of millennials are showing an interest in the insurance industry.

Seeing that within the following twenty years every 3 out of 4 jobs will be occupied by millennials, TelaClaims’ model offers an imperative resolution to the current disconnect with 96% of millennials.

According to a recent Hartford Study, the average insurance professional is approximately 60 years old and retiring within the next 5 years; roughly 75% of insurance pros are over the age of 55; and, as stated, only about 4% of millennials are interested in working in the insurance industry.

We can retool, streamline, and onboard each of these groups to collectively add value greater than the sum of their parts.

We implemented our unique claims handling strategy during an actual catastrophe situation, when it mattered most. TelaClaims handled thousands of claims with a shorter cycle time, fewer dissatisfied customers, and at a lower cost than the ‘traditional’ model.

Efficiencies in our model, with a cornerstone of improved customer service, yielded our outperformance of the marketplace.

TelaClaims has created a culture that all generations will not only want to work in, but also that will encourage them to make a difference in people’s lives by using our technology and workflow innovations.

We look forward to continuing to be a disruptive force in this industry so in need a fresh approach.

When the name Henry Ford is mentioned, it is synonymous with revolutionary ‘invention’, adaptation or implementation of the moving assembly line.

Many people have taken that to hyperbolic lengths, the creation of the ‘modern’ industrial revolution (please note that modern was used tongue and cheek).

If you ask someone on the street about Henry Ford, many believe that he ‘invented’ the automobile. That is quite a legacy, and well deserved. His ideas were new and fresh, and quite disruptive in their day.

Henry Ford would be proud to see the evolution of the ‘gig’ economy. Though no one person has been credited with the invention or creation of the gig economy, many innovators have contributed to its existence.

It has been predicted in a study by Intuit, that by the year 2020, 40% of American workers will be independent contractors.

40% four out of ten people. Almost one half of Americans. That is a staggering number!

So what is the gig economy, also known as the ‘sharing economy’?

This was a phrase coined in 2009 when full time work was hard to come by.

Talented workers would work any series of short term ‘gigs’ in order to make ends meet.

Let’s face it, from a young age all of us, in some small way wanted to be rock stars.   So now, rather than have a boring full time job, we all can do a ‘gig’ whenever it fits within our newly monikered desire to achieve a perfect ‘work-life balance’.

I’m an insurance guy, and the one thing we in the insurance industry don’t do well is new or cutting edge.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it right? Well, I would argue that it is ‘broke’. Let me explain.

Let’s start by agreeing that all insurance companies want to be the model for off the chart customer service, unparalleled customer satisfaction, phenomenal customer retention, efficiency across all channels, and yes, lest we not forget profitability.

I would argue that all of those lofty goals are one in the same. One begets the others and vice versa.

I’ve been in a lot of board rooms, and heard a lot of words from other executives about how these are the goals of their insurance companies. The overarching question is how?

Embrace the gig economy.

But before we get into how best a carrier can embrace the gig economy, let’s start by demystifying it.

Carriers have forever used the former version of the gig economy, independent contractors or vendors.

Their appetite for these professionals always seems to wax and wane but they remain an omnipresent fixture in the day to day insurance industry.

Let’s focus in on a typical homeowner carrier as our example as representational of the insurance industry.

A HO carrier, we will call them ABC Ins Co., or ABC for short, writes HO policies across a wide geographic area in order to avoid saturation of risk.

They have a home office, where they employ qualified adjusters. A claim comes in 450 miles away from their closest adjuster. They now call their IA firm, and ask them if they have an adjuster in the area.

Their answer is always yes (whether they do or not), and so the claim is assigned to the IA firm.

If a water mitigation company is needed, the carrier calls their best water mitigation company and says we have a new claims in this area, can you handle it (again the answer is always yes!).

Now the carrier feels as if they have done everything they could possibly do.

They have assigned the claim to the IA firm and they have sent a water mitigation company. Now they sit back and wait. And wait. And wait, the entire time playing quarterback between the policyholder and the IA firm and water restoration company.

This doesn’t seem like they are in control. They have now outsourced their customer satisfaction to two outside firms.

Let me be clear. We love IA firms. We are one!

We love all vendors. They perform amazing work on behalf of the carrier day in and day out. We just want them to be used more effectively.


It starts with realizing what a claim is. A claim, in our humble opinion, when distilled down to its core essence, is a carrier responding to their promise to be there when something (peril) occurs at the loss location.

An adjusters job it to take the facts of that claim, apply the policy and indemnify the policyholder.

This can be done in many different ways, direct repair, check, combination of the two, but indemnification is the ultimate goal!

In order to meet this goal you have to make good decisions regarding the claim. And you can only make good decisions with good data.

The adjusters’ main job is to collect information in order to make an informed decision on that claim. So now let’s start thinking about what this information looks like.

We need a description of the loss. We need some photos of the loss, maybe a video. We need measurements of the affected area. We need to know the extent of the damage. We need to do some investigation as to causation. These are all the jobs that the adjuster performs.

How can this process be done more effectively via the gig economy?

We would argue that making good decisions on claims requires good data. A lot of it. The more data, the better the claim can be adjudicated. But why are we sending our best decision maker into the field to collect this straight forward data.

An adjuster in a car, sitting in traffic going to one loss location is highly inefficient. I would much rather place that highly trained, qualified adjuster, at his/her desk with a video feed of all that is going on at the loss location and allow them to quarterback the loss.

We at TelaClaims would propose a better solution. Embrace the gig economy. Realize that claims require data. The best and fastest way to collect that data is to segment highly specialized people into their respective areas of efficiencies and what they enjoy doing. We crudely refer to this as the boots and butts problem. Some adjusters are great boots, but not so great at sitting down and translating what they see in the field into actionable reporting. Others are great at reporting and are whizzes in estimate writing but hate being in the field.

In summation, work with your policyholder, not just for your policyholder, and leverage all of the willing participants in the gig economy to drive better data, at lower costs to you in order to make better decisions.

At TelaClaims, we have the software solution to reduce a 30 day claim cycle into 30 minutes. That becomes the very definition of a win, win, win.

So as an insurance executive, the next time you hear gig or sharing economy, embrace that and proudly report that we have leveraged the gig economy to afford the utmost in customer satisfaction which has translated into demonstrable cost savings and bolstered the bottom line. We love gig, so will you.


David Milton, founder and CEO of TelaClaims, will be soft launching TelaClaims during his speech tomorrow at Americas Claims Event. TelaClaims is a revolutionary product providing claim adjusters process