Archive for January, 2014

The Legion of Boom and Driving Outcomes in your Claims Organization

Super Bowl 48This year’s Super Bowl may be one of the more difficult to handicap in recent memories.  Whether Peyton Manning can outmaneuver the smothering Seattle defense remains to be seen.   One thing is certain; the matchup should provide one of the more entertaining big games in recent memory.  

Of course, there are lessons that we should take away, as well.  These are two teams that have earned their place in history.  Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was all but written off a couple years ago after neck surgery.   His resilience has stunned even his most ardent supporters.  This future hall of famer will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the best, if not the best, quarterbacks in history. 

One the other side of the line is the smothering Legion of Boom and the Seahawks defense.   While they may not be the 1976 Steelers or 1985 Bears, they are darn good!   Just look at the statistics;  fewest yards allowed, fewest yards per game, fewest points allowed and the most interceptions.  Given the claims industry penchant for benchmarking to specific metrics, there are a lot of lessons that can be learned from measuring the right things and holding people accountable; the surest recipe for results.  

What are some of the lessons that we, as claims leaders, can take off the field and into our own organizations?  First, it is that people matter.   Of all the rosters in the NFL, the two facing off in this year’s Super Bowl are arguably the best two teams.  It is an epic showdown between the number one offense and the number defense.   These teams earned these ranks because their people consistently executed basic fundamentals.

As discussed in Re-Adjusted: 20 Essential Rules To Take You Claims Organization from Ordinary to Extraordinary, people are the foundation of every organization.  The right ones will give you a competitive edge because they will consistently execute.   That said, the wrong people will leave your organization at a competitive disadvantage, largely the result of inconsistent performance.   Just like the NFL isn’t for everyone, neither is a career in claims.  It is incumbent upon business leaders to ensure that they have the most talented people in every position, be it an executive, manager, adjuster or claims assistant.  

Beyond the people, there is the attitude.  The Broncos bring years of experience and an air of positivity.  This is what every organization needs.    Imagine the success of any organization with leaders and visionaries who could execute in the trenches and the boardroom.   Counter that with a more physical approach that is hands on, high intensity every step of the way.   Just as claims organizations can have different philosophies on how to attain success, so too can NFL franchises.   The key to success is having the winning attitude and a will to succeed 24/7.   As Vince Lombardi said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.” 

Think of the potential in not only a claims organization, but any organization, if it were stacked with positive attitudes and a will to succeed.  This translates to victory both on the field and off the field.  Rather than focusing on points scored and games won, perhaps we are looking at effective investigations and accurate claims resolutions.  Rather than a stadium full of cheering fans, we are looking to win adoring customers who are delighted in outcomes and eager to renew their loyalty for another season. 

There are insurance carriers who have adopted this mantra, and they are growing exponentially.  There are others who have not, often stuck in the status quo simply because it works.  It is a difference in paradigm of what will get me to the Super Bowl versus can I get by with another .500 season. 

Whatever the outcome on Sunday, these are two outstanding teams.  They have taken tremendous steps to get from pretty darn ordinary to extraordinary.   Typically, I would put my money on a defense to win championships, but I do have some reservations given the chess master on the other side.     The Seattle defense plays a lot of single high safety and presses the outside.  They have gotten away with it because of the strength of their pass rush.   This could be their downfall against Denver, which has the ability to block, giving Manning some time to engage in his aerial circus.  If could actually be Seattle’s offense that determines the outcome, if they execute on sustained drives thus keeping the Broncos’ offense on the sidelines.    If that happens, look for the Seahawks to win.   If not, look for a Mile High celebration.   If I must make the call, it will be Seahawks 27, Broncos 24.

Christopher Tidball is a claims consultant and the author of multiple books, including Blocking & Tackling: The Playbook for the Winning Claims Organization.  He is a claims veteran, with more than two decades of adjusting, management and executive leadership experience.  To learn more, please visit


January 31, 2014 at 10:58 am Leave a comment

Look Ma, Now Hands: The future of driverless cars

Imagine running out to do some errands, getting behind the wheel and being able to read the paper, do your nails or watch television while en route.  On one hand this sounds a little crazy; unless you give some credence to the fact that most accidents are caused by human error.  Maybe, just maybe, taking people from behind the wheel is the single biggest safety initiative in history. 

According to sources at NBC news, the University of Michigan and state government officials aim to have a 32-acre driverless car test site running by September, just in time for a global conference on intelligent transportation systems.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder joined new GM CEO Mary Barra at the Detroit auto show and outlined plans for the Mobility Transformation Facility, a $6.5 million site that will offer a simulated urban environment with roads, intersections, building facades, traffic circles and a hill.

Michigan also passed a new law letting companies test driverless but occupied cars on roads, and a street-level research project in Ann Arbor involving 3,000 people in networked vehicles.   Given these new developments, it would appear that the future of driving may soon be upon us. 

Driverless cars certainly aren’t a new phenomenon; the concept was presented a generation ago when Steven King introduced “Christine”, a murderous, self-driving vintage car possessed by supernatural forces.   Fiction aside, the concept originally emerged with anti-lock brakes that shouldered the load for braking in hazardous conditions, reducing driver error and leading to fewer accidents.    Then came traction and stability control, adding sophistication to the concept of driverless vehicles.  

Today we see any number of options to aid in safe driving, from bumper sensors to back up cameras.  But even with all of these options, there is still room for human error!   But in a day and age when an app has seemingly been developed for everything under the sun, parking your car may have just become a bit easier.   The Audi RS7 Sportback SUV actually has an automatic parking feature, controlled by an app as the driver stands at the curb.  It looks like remote control cars aren’t just for little kids anymore!

Could something this bizarre work in reality?  Inventors throughout the course of history have been questioned, yet look at our society today.   When one considers that Google’s fleet of driverless cars has driven over 500,000 miles with not so much as a fender bender, this theory starts to gain some traction.  This is especially true when considering that the average human has one accident for every few hundred thousand miles of driving.   I guess the bigger question is whether Amazon can deliver my new driverless car via drone. 

Google’s Chauffer technology  uses LIDAR,  a remote sensing technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser and analyzing the reflected light.  It works like sonar, but is far more accurate, using 64 rotating laser beams taking more than a million measurements per second to form a 3D model in its computer brain that’s accurate to the centimeter. Preloaded maps identify such things are traffic lights, crosswalks, telephone poles, and the LIDAR fills in the landscape with moving objects like people, and perhaps even speed traps. 

At present, this technology runs about $75,000 dollars and is out of the price range of the average consumer.   Then again, so were big screen televisions and smart phones just a few short years ago. 

So what does this mean from a claims handling perspective?  Perhaps we should revisit the future of no touch claims handling that we discussed in late 2013.  It seems that no touch driving may lead to just that!

The reality is that cars may be safe, but there will still be a myriad of issues that will lead to claims.  Increased costs of gadgetry will make cars more expensive to repair.  They will also become a magnet for thieves.   Will the insured want an OEM LIDAR system or a knock off from China? 

Until cars can ultimately do the thinking for people, it is people who will ultimately be in charge.  As a kid who used plenty of remote controlled gadgets, I can tell you that I had my share of crashes, no matter how “idiot” proof the technology seemed to be. 

There will also be issues around existing laws on the road, such as states that say a driver “must have their hands on the wheel”.   How will states with vicarious liability address litigation?  Should the seller of such technology have known of the potential risks?  There are a lot of questions that will need to have answers settled in coming years as more states permit driverless vehicles on the roadway.  This will be especially interesting to follow with the commencement of consumer sales.

As one who loves technology, I find this concept to be fascinating.  But I also like to be in control, so let’s say I won’t be at the head of the line when these cars are available.   My preference is having my hands at 10 and 2, my eyes on the road with some great cruising tunes on.  Perhaps this is a sign of getting old; then again, it could be me just holding out for flying cars. 

Chris Tidball is a casualty claims consultant with Mitchell International and the author of multiple books, including Blocking & Tackling: The Playbook for the Winning Claims Organization.  He is a claims veteran with more than 25 years of industry experience.  To learn more, please visit or e-mail

January 15, 2014 at 12:22 pm Leave a comment

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Chris Tidball is a claims and revenue management consultant and author of the "20 Essential Rules" series of self and organizational improvement books. You can ask him a question at

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