I’ve known Mike for over 20 years. He was one of our first customers when I founded MountainView Software. Mike’s the type of guy you could enjoy talking to at dinner all evening. He’s about as nice as they come.
Mike has a long tenure in the claims industry, starting as a teenager working for his father’s business, which he now owns and operates.
Mike hails from the beautiful city of Billings, MT (pictured above). He’s the President if Midland Claims, a TPA focused primarily on businesses in the Big Sky state of Montana.
This is an interview I had with Mike Marsh 5-21-2019. Mike is the President of Midland Claims, a workers' compensation TPA based in Billings, MT. I've known Mike for 20+ years. He's one of the nicest guys I know, and he's a pioneer in our industry. Mike has strongly held opinions on servicing the injured worker.
As is usual when talking to Mike (and I’ve known him long enough to know!), Mike gets right to the meat of things! Our interview got straight to a topic Mike is passionate about – treating claimants with care and dignity and making them the central point of managing a claim.
My first question to Mike was about a keynote speech he gave at the National Council of Self-Insured national meetings in 2017. His remarks were titled “Humanizing the Workers’ Compensation System.” We jumped right in and Mike shared his perspective with personal insight and experiences, including an experience he had as a very young man when he visited a claimant with his father (who founded the business Mike now runs).
Mike’s strongly held opinion is that the interest of the injured worker has been lost – even forgotten – in the quest to reduce costs. Mike recalled the days when claims were handled by “Field Agents”, who, instead of working behind a desk, “went out and saw [the claimant] face-to-face. They shook their hand, they looked at the situation…. Later, when there was a claim, they already knew the people.”
Mike doesn’t hold back. He believes many “large, national companies” who manage claims are “set up to minimize touch points so they can get closures.”
Mike’s company, by contrast, is set up to have “an open door” so the injured worker and his/her family feel welcome to come to the Midland Claims offices and to be part of the process to manage their claim. Mike said there is barely a day that goes by that they don’t have someone in their office.
Mike mentions a philosophical difference between Midland Claims and most other TPA service providers. His company invoices on Time & Expense, as opposed to flat rate invoicing. He believes that in the long run this approach saves the employer a lot of money, and places the onus of getting the job done right on the TPA.
We switched gears and talked about how to get the next generation of workers interested in the workers’ comp industry. Mike said, “It is incumbent on our entire industry to make us look more attractive, and you do that by engaging potential workers.” Mike has a daughter who recently graduated from Montana State University, so he used he as an example. He said we need to do a much better job of educating people, even as early as high school, but especially college-age, about our industry. We need to offer apprenticeships and internships, and let them see how meaningful this industry can be.
Mike said he has started to see a “rejection of social media” among that age. He talked about the attraction of the local coffee shop, and how much college-age students enjoy the personal, social interaction there. He compared it to the local bar of his youth, and spoke to the growing trend to get back to personal interaction and away from social media.
He used this to support his notion that if the next generation can be shown how working in our industry can be done at a personal level, rather than sitting in their home, alone with their computer, the work will be much more meaningful and attractive.
We spent the last few minutes talking about Mike’s passion for Flat Track Motorcycle racing, including a touching description he gave of a life-threatening accident he had and the tremendous healing role his daughter played in his life.
Here are Mike’s answers to the Lightning Round questions:
Hmmm… I sense a bit of a motorcycle theme there Mike 🙂
It was a pleasure speaking to Mike. Mike is engaging, opinionated, honest, and smart. You’ll enjoy listening to the interview.