Listen to the AMO Trial Lawyers Podcast


Speaker 1: You’re tuned into the AMO show, a podcast created by attorney Matthew Ory, as a way to explore the basic concepts of mindset, negotiations, networking, and leverage in the simplest terms as possible. But no simpler. Our goal is to fill the gaps left by formal education through real life experiences in order to better ourselves as individuals.

Speaker 2: What’s going on everybody? It’s Matt Ory with the AMO show. Today’s topic will be how not to get shafted by your insurance company. Joining me today and many more times will be our producer Brad D’Antonio and Dwayne Waxer with SantiClean.

Speaker 3: It was once said, if you wouldn’t work with someone for a lifetime, then don’t work for them for one day. Matt asked me if I would work with him as his producer. Sure, it’s never been an easier yes because I would work with Matt for the rest of my life if I could. So remember that if you wouldn’t work with somebody for an entire lifetime, don’t work with them for a day. Words to live by. That’s the kind of stuff you’re going to get from this show. Informative, insightful, the sort of information that you won’t learn in school. We’re going to fill in those gaps. Don’t you think Matt? Isn’t that what we’re trying to do?

Speaker 2: You and I, the roles are now changing. So this is the first AMO show. I’ve been really excited about it. And I do believe that is the premise of the show. This all started, you and I would get into these conversations in college and law school. And I remember looking back and we would talk about it going, man, I wish that hour and a half was recorded. I could be in a stairwell and you were upstairs and we’d start talking.

In an hour and a half later, we’re still there and you’re going, man, if that was only on recording. And I love what you just said because the majority of lessons I’ve learned in life, they don’t come to school. I get beat up and I learn. That’s the only way to learn is to actually do it. I didn’t know anything about a jury trial until I had one.

I didn’t know anything about commercial real estate until I started investing. And you kind of figure it out. But anyway, man, this is going to be awesome. I’m excited about it. It’s something that’s been in the making for a while and now is the time. And I’m super excited that you accepted my invitation to work with me on this because as all guests have heard me say it before, certainly admire you as a person.

Your work ethic is incredible and you are who you surround yourself with. So opportunity for us to spend a lot of time together throughout the course of the next couple of years, as long as you’re around and don’t take off to Europe or God knows wherever else you go.

Speaker 3: If I take off to Europe, you’re coming with me, bro.

Speaker 2: I am coming. We talked about Austria, lots of places that we want to see and we’re going to go. But we got canceled because of COVID, but it’s going to happen. So anyway, man, let’s get started.

Speaker 3: Well, why don’t we start with Hurricane Ida, which was just it devastated this area. I couldn’t believe driving from New Orleans to Tibido, which is only about 60 miles. The amount of carnage that I saw on the side of the street. I mean, traffic was backed up. I was like, there must be an accident upcoming. No. There was just still stuff piled in the street on the side of the street everywhere along Highway 90. How long is this going to go on?

Speaker 2: I don’t know. It’s going to go on, but the traffic has been everybody’s been complaining of the traffic. I’m not blaming anybody. It’s just kind of second nature to these type of storms. But this one’s bad, man. This is the worst I’ve seen.

I’ve had the opportunity to kind of go to all these tentacles that shoot out of Terrebonne Parish and the Fouche Parish. It’s ugly. It’s actually been consuming our life. Probably the last three weeks we have been going about as hard as you can go. You know, it’s, we’re on the phone 24 seven regarding hurricane claims. The panic setting in for people is they’re starting to get estimates back from adjusters or adjusters haven’t come out. So the fear and panic setting in, we’re kind of here today.

We’re going to start our show and this is going to be primarily based on hurricane claims and how to react. So you’re from Tivito. You know, people tend to come here and they don’t go anywhere. They stick around. And one of the fascinating aspects of this is we sit here today as people questioning if they should file a claim and they’re concerned that they’re broker of 44 years and I’m making those numbers up or 20 years, maybe upset with them.

You know, you hear it. I’ve been with X, Y and Z insurance company for 22 years and man, I don’t want to upset them and I don’t want my deductible go to skyrocket. Well, the problem with that is, is number one, anyone south of 90, their deductible is going up. We know that number two, your broker wants you to be compensated as you should. They want your book of business. They’re not looking to lose clients.

You know, that’s something that people don’t understand. Don’t feel bad about filing a claim. These are your hoard earned dollars going to these premiums and your broker is not upset with you. Your broker is working for you. There’s not a broker around here that doesn’t want to see you treated fairly. Yeah.

Speaker 3: Why wouldn’t they want to see you get $2 million?

Speaker 2: Well, they do. They want you to be honest and put back in a pre-storm condition. That’s all they want and they’re going to work hard for you to do that. I mean, nobody should be blaming a broker right now because they’re having problems with their underlying agency. This is the nature of the beast and people need to understand your broker has very little influence. In fact, no influence over the monetary value of your claim. That’s just the facts.

Speaker 3: Tell me this. Should you be looking to see who’s going above and beyond for others to determine who your broker is going to be in the future?

Speaker 2: Absolutely. You and I talked about this a couple of weeks ago, but this is the Super Bowl. They need to be active in. It’s a safety net for people. It makes them feel better. It calms them down because the number one thing that I could tell anybody right now is to calm down as best as you can because things are going to be all right. We’ll talk about that as this episode goes on, but dang it, just remain calm and operate under pressure in a calm manner. We’re going to take people’s steps A through Z throughout this episode, tell them what to do, what not to do, and things are going to be all right.

Last night, I had the opportunity to have dinner with a public adjuster, a certified industrial hygienist, Dwayne Waxer from Santi Clean, and some incredible information shared because you’re looking at the experts in their fields or pertains to storms. This is what these guys do. They live and die for this. This is their job and they’re very mobile. They spend six months a year here or three months in Atlanta or six months in New York, but they do have a lot of insight.

It’s our job to cut through the BS and to understand exactly what their role is and is it beneficial. The one thing I took from that conversation was, at least from the public adjuster, he harped on the fact that no one knows your home like you do. It resonated. It sounds very elementary, but it wasn’t.

I totally understand now and I thought about it a lot last night. He shared a lot of insight on what some things people should be doing right now that I’d like to share with everybody. The first and most important message was to know your home and with that, documenting with a checklist in every corner of your house, interior, exterior, what you should be looking for and when that adjuster comes, you present that to him. You get on the offensive.

You turn his eyes where you want him to go. He harped on that these adjusters are so overworked. We use it to your advantage because that’s the truth of the matter and that’s why we have an inspector here today to come on the show and talk because these guys can only dedicate such a small amount of time.

Many complaints we’ve heard have been, how does the adjuster know which role with my house? He didn’t go my attic. He didn’t go my roof. He didn’t look in the interior of my walls. You know what I mean? There was no structural element to his job.

It was merely, I’m spending an hour and a half here, two hours at this place and I’m on the run. Use it to your advantage and point their eyes in the direction you want them to look. The way to do that is to have a detailed list. Even if the adjusters come, that’s okay. You still need it because when you get that estimate back from them that should have line item, scope of work, you can then use that as your mirror and look back and say yes, he did look at X. He looked at Y. He looked at Z. Oh, hold on. He missed Q. He missed O. So it’s something good to have and people certainly need to be doing it.

Speaker 3: And adjusters don’t mind that if you give them a checklist of items that you’ve gone through pre-storm and said, hey, I took a picture of ABC and D which were siding windows gutters. Would you mind taking a list at this and then we can kind of agree or see where I may have missed something and maybe you missed something and would that be cool? Could we do that together? Is that something they’d be amenable to?

Speaker 2: I think they’re all different in every regard. Personalities are different. And the fact of the matter is even if they don’t or they are offended, what matters is you presented it to them.

You’ve turned right back around and submitted that to the insurance company after that adjuster came saying, guys, I want to put you on notice. I gave him this list. He didn’t look at my attic. He didn’t check my insulation.

He didn’t get on my roof. And we’ll talk about more about communication a minute. But I think it varies from adjuster to adjuster. Some have been pleasant. Some have been very rude. It’s a case by case basis, but it never hurts.

And frankly, it should be done at least the attempt and back it up within some form of correspondence to the insurance company the minute they leave. But look, I mean, these are things that these last night, this conversation, they’re telling us what to look for and what not to look for, such as addicts. You get up there, you’re looking for leaks. You’re checking roof trusses because if they’re loose, you know, they can compromise the integrity of the home.

Windows, if you can push a window in a hair or it moves and it didn’t before, potentially you need to get a structural engineer to come look at your property. These are things that once that claims resolved, it really doesn’t matter if you didn’t supplement it and there’s a release sign it’s over. So these things need to be checked. If a guy doesn’t get on a roof, how do you know that the integrity of the shingles are still in place that they can’t be lifted, that the roofer didn’t put additional holes in your roof by torping?

You know, those are all things that need to be done. And speaking of roofers, I would certainly recommend that everyone gets a roofer, a qualified roofer up to give you a written report and to check your home, whether you can see it or not, because it’s all the things that you really can’t see that can come back to bite you in the ass.

Speaker 3: If you have a roofer A who is reputable, who will do a consultation for you for, let’s say $400 but won’t go on the roof. And you have roofer contractor B who will go on the roof for $500 who is super reputable, but won’t go on the roof. Go with the less reputable person who’s less expensive because he will go on the roof.

Speaker 2: I think it’s extremely important to have someone’s eyes on a roof. And that would be like me inspecting a premise via photographs. Yeah. That don’t do anything for me. And it’s more about physical presence up there with someone who is qualified, whether they’re cheaper or not. You got to look to see the forest through the trees and see how this is going to look in court one day. If it gets to that point and they’re going to, who’s the judge or the jury going to decide with here when you say, hold on, you didn’t get on the roof and you’re telling me what you think the estimated repair should be versus the guy who went on the roof, who took photographs, who’s telling me exactly what he saw and only saw he touched it. He felt it. I mean, that’s a no brainer. But, you know, everybody, one thing they should have is a designated hurricane folder with, that has your deck page, your policy, your photos, all correspondence from companies and your adjusters, estimates, receipts, you know, correspondence.

We talk about this in our daily lives, but everything needs to be backed up. Don’t just send an email, send an email asking that they respond, that I know it’s a red receipt email. If you’re going to send mail, send it certified in X for the green card back so that they can acknowledge that the acceptance was there. I mean, you can’t just send a letter and expect that they get it.

You’ve got to send that be a certified mail. But the documentation is everything in this world because it’s no different than a cross examination of a law enforcement officer. You know, they’re trained that if you didn’t write it, it didn’t happen. It’s the same type of concept in a fellow on our team now, Jim Ryan, who works with us. He was on the other side of this thing, working for Allstate around Katrina.

So we get to see the other side and how people defended these cases from an inside view, which is really neat. But the one thing he’s, Jim’s going to tell you the same thing. Document, document, document.

And it sounds so, you know, such like an elementary concept, but it’s really true. And when documenting, we’re not just talking about it at the first stage. I’m talking about documenting throughout the process. Every phone call that you have, you should have a pen in your hand with a paper writing down exactly what was said, because you get to go back and look at these notes. If you’re going to have an adjuster come over, have a third party who’s neutral come over. That way it’s not just he said, she said, he’s going, no, no, no, my buddy was right here.

And that’s exactly what they told me. That stuff matters, man. It’s a big deal. And we’re all guilty of it, but people really need to think about everything through the eyes of a lens. It’s looking 12 months ahead. Yeah. Because when this goes down in a courtroom, you’re going to need to, to have a rock solid case.

Speaker 3: What sounds like what you’re saying is to look at it through the lens of potential litigation. Right. If you have a conversation with Jenny at State Farm, per our conversation, Jenny said X, Y, and Z.

And now that we have email communication, that probably can be put into an email. Per my conversation with Jenny at State Farm, she said X, Y, and Z. And I said in R and S. You see what I’m saying? Absolutely. So it’s not just keeping your own log in your own file. It’s emailed also because that email will have the date and the timestamp on there.

Speaker 2: That’s exactly correct, man. And we can’t hope on that enough. It’s going to come back to bite you or it’s going to save the day. You had asked earlier about some of the things, examples of what we’re seeing right now that’s upsetting people in, let’s use mold, for instance, okay? A lot of these policies, there’s an exclusion for microorganism growth. Well, I say to the insurance company, I’m not here for you to remediate mold. Mold is just a consequence of the covered loss. I’m here to fix this water damage, whether mold grew on it or not. So don’t be intimidated when somebody uses the word microorganism. Use it all you want. I’m telling you that without the storm, I’m not dealing with mold because of the water damage.

You see what I mean? I’m treating water damage molds and ancillary effect of that, whether it was there or not. I’m still treating it. So what the hell does an exclusion from microorganism have to do with this? Wind driven rain, that’s one we’re seeing a lot.

Wind driven rain will be covered if it’s an opening caused by the peril. I’ve seen that type of language in a policy. Explain that, please. So they’re saying you have people that water is seeping through a house, right? You can’t, you don’t go on the roof and say, oh my God, look at that hole. But you know what’s coming in.

Well, what people, the forces of nature, think about when hitting the side of a house, all right? At 150 miles an hour, it’s going one way up or down after that. When it goes up, it goes to the socket, it starts lifting. You don’t see it.

You’re never going to see it. But common knowledge tells you it’s just vibrating, these little bitty gaps, up and down, up and down, up and down. Well, wind driven, aka sideways rain, is going straight in. But when the adjuster comes out or you go look the day after, you don’t see an opening, do you? You didn’t see an opening in your door where the water came in, but I can assure you the pressure caused that door to have some type of opening that’s not going to be visible the next day. And who the hell was out there in a category five storm video in the socket and the door to say, look, there’s a little bitty opening? Well, that’s an opening by wind driven rain. Again, don’t let this language and these policies deter you.

Speaker 3: Just keep pounding. When should you be contacted, Mr. Ori attorney?

Speaker 2: Well, what we’re seeing right now, we’re in the early stages and the contacts been quite frequent to say the least. But we tell people if the insurance company is being reasonable at the beginning, you need to keep plowing through it. You know what I mean? You don’t want us involved. Unfortunately, that really hasn’t been the case. And by reason, I’ll give you an example. If a contractor comes out and says, Brad’s got $100,000 of damage to his home, insurance man says, no, we think that you have $20,000 worth of damage. That’s an 80% gap in where, you know, where we are.

That’s not reasonable. Unfortunately, just dealing with insurance companies, regal, for hurricane or not, we know the profits probably not really moving very much after that. You’re going to have to get us involved there. Frankly, it’s been well recognized very early with the aftermath of Ida.

I think we know the stance the insurance companies are taking. Not all. Some have been great, but you’re going to need us when your gap just doesn’t shrink. So what people, people right now haven’t even gotten their first offer in.

And the ones that have not all, but the vast majority panic begins because they’re going, hold on, hold on, hold on. They said I have $92,000 worth of damage. You’re offering me eight grand. That’s a problem. I know from dealing with this enough that that’s, that’s really not going to get much better without us.

So it will get better. You just have to fight them. They’re going to make you fight them. Insurance companies right now are assuming that that wave, that first wave of 60% of people that are so desperate because they don’t have anything, they’re going to knock that wave out and they frankly don’t really care about that other 45, 40% of people, whether they’re in bad faith or not. And what is bad faith? So bad faith for us is very simple in our world in generic terms, bad faith. An insurance company is required.

All right. 30 days after submitting sufficient proof of loss, which could be the adjuster coming out, it could be me sending our contractor out. The insurance company gets that information. They have 30 days from sufficient proof of loss to make a reasonable tender.

Okay. If they do not, you can potentially hold them in bad faith and the penalty for bad faith, let’s go back to that $100,000 example versus the $20,000 offer. So your guy says, your contractor says you have a hundred thousand repairs.

The insurance company says, no, we think it’s 20. We litigate, we win. We get a hundred thousand dollars for our client. That gap of 80,000. The statute says the court can award a penalty to the plaintiff of up to 50% of that gap, essentially.

So they could award up to an additional 40,000 because of that $80,000 gap, along with reasonable attorney fees to be paid by the defendant, along with court costs. That’s a big deal. So that is bad faith. And frankly, because of the magnitude of the storm right now, that’s insurance companies really don’t have a choice.

They’re shorthanded and I don’t feel sorry for them. Your job is to prepare for catastrophes. You’re grossly underprepared. It’s not my fault or my client’s fault that you don’t have enough adjusters, our people are suffering. I frankly could give a damn about you right now. I know what this law says and I know that you’re in violation. So that’s a, that’s a big tool for us to use.

Speaker 3: Okay, Matt, we were just talking about bad faith claims. Correct. Who can bring a bad faith claim?

Speaker 2: Well, presumptively the attorney’s going to bring your choice of attorney would bring a bad faith claim on your behalf. But theoretically, an individual could bring that claim, you know, if they knew how to foul petition, what to put in the petition, frankly, what bad faith even was and how to plead it, they could bring their own petition and prepare their own petition and foul with the court. However, that is a distinction between an adjuster and an attorney is an adjuster couldn’t bring a bad faith claim on behalf or proceed with a bad faith claim on behalf of their client. That would be the unauthorized practice of law. So only an attorney and in some situations an individual could, if they were, you know, trained and felt comfortable to do so. Okay.

Speaker 3: Scale of one to 10, 10 being the choice of attorney matters. How important is the choice of attorney? Because I see billboards all over town for attorneys. I’d love to dial each one of them and have a chat, almost like an interview and kind of figure them out. Like if he’s worth a shit or not, how do you think about that?

Speaker 2: On a scale of one to 10, it’s a 12. You know, it is. This is something that really, and we, we advertise a lot. We have to. It drives us crazy. I know certainly myself.

I watch the things on Facebook or Instagram, especially hurricane related. And at the end of the day, what matters with your attorney in a hurricane claim is if they’re willing to go to court. Frankly, it’s, it’s not rocket science. It’s having the balls to proceed into confront anyone, anytime, anywhere. And that sounds cliche, but it’s really not because I know a lot of these people that are advertising now that we’re going to save the day. We’ll fight for you. No, you won’t. I’ve never seen you in a courtroom. And if I have, it really wasn’t impressive.

You know what I mean? It, it’s the lock goes into these trials and it’s the willingness to proceed and not take the easy settlement. Insurance companies love storm chasing attorneys who come in from out of town, out of state.

It’s okay to come in out of town if you practice in that jurisdiction. But believe me, they know their databases know exactly who tries cases and who doesn’t. You would be the type who would research people as they should. I would be Googling.

I would want to know. Mel, did you, you tried that case and you awarded $600,000? Show me the minute entry.

Yeah. Show me that you actually went forth with a jury trial. There’s so many questions that you could get from people, um, to verify these things.

So many people don’t do it. I encourage everyone to do your homework with your choice of attorney and you better understand and think logically about, wait, hold on. I have a $60,000 claim. I’m having an attorney coming from three hours away. So you really want to sit in a jury trial or bench trial and litigate this for the next five days of his life. The answer is absolutely not. The second answer is the insurance companies know that I promise you, your choice of attorney matters tremendously, whether it’s us or not.

That’s okay. Just make sure it’s somebody who’s competent and it has the desire and willingness to actually proceed with a trial. You don’t understand as a layman, at least outside of legal field, how much for a lost orthosis people are lazy, man. So I just encourage everyone do your homework because it is absolutely going to matter. You want a dog in that fight. You want a trained assassin in a courtroom

Speaker 3: because most attorneys are after a settlement, right? Sure.

Speaker 2: Amicable settlements are awesome. Uh, they’re called for, but there are situations you’ve got to hit people in the mouth, hit them again and again and again. And frankly, it’s fun.

I mean, it is nothing wrong with it. So we have the opportunity right now. We understand here how important this is because if the money is not kept here and our citizens and our local parishes are not compensated fairly, why are they staying? If they don’t stay, it affects everybody. You know, this, we’re going to be representing the people with their, they’re working their butts off to pay these insurance premiums to get screwed. And, uh, I’m super excited about it. Honestly, it’s this little, it’s been in a drill and high for about three weeks now. I don’t know when the hell it’s coming down, but it surely doesn’t seem to be teetering at all.

Speaker 3: That’s a great point. Actuarial tables. That’s what insurance companies are about. So if they’re facing litigation, you can damn sure bet that they know which attorneys have taken cases to trial and won and you damn right.

Speaker 2: They do. Actuaries sit behind desk all day long and collect and input data. That’s all they do and take David, for example, there’s nobody else I’d rather in a courtroom with me than him. David’s about five foot seven. You think he’s the nicest guy in the world. He gets in a courtroom and he’s, that’s where he’s in his element.

You know, it’s, it’s pretty neat to watch. And when I tell you fearless, he could absolutely care less. Oh, we’re going to pursue the jury trial. David will look at me and go, okay, great.

When we start, you know what I mean? And they know that they know exactly who’s willing to take who to task. And it’s all based off of previous results. And that’s what kills me because I’m watching people advertise as trial attorneys. I’m like, when did your firm ever go to trial? Ever.

And if you have, did you ever have a successful result? We know all that. And people in the legal community know it. They look at certain lawyers that they know, like, you seen this guy or her. They, what did they portraying themselves at?

We’re here to talk to talk and walk the walk. They challenge anybody to say who’s litigated more in five years in AMO. Maybe someone has, I doubt it. Call me out if you have. I’d love to hear you.

Speaker 3: They’re basically like Boudreaux, Bodego and Belelo LLC. Bluffers. Right. I mean, like they’re bluffing.

Speaker 2: God, I just wish how people understood that like you do. And I know they are. And I can call their bluff all day long. You know what I mean? It’s. You know, COVID’s been different because we’ve been deprived of jury trials for so long now and then we have a hurricane. We couldn’t impanel a jury and then a hurricane, it’s just been exasperated. But here nor there, they know the choice is important.

And yes, there are pretenders everywhere. I just hope that people do their homework because I want them staying here. I want the money staying here. I want people to be honest.

I want them to be truthful with their claim and just don’t abuse the system. And calm down for crying out loud. If I got any advice for any moment, somebody makes ridiculous offer. Say, you know what? That’s not so bad because I know the recourse. I know the penalty. And if you get the right person to handle the claim, they’re going to pay dearly for that stupid decision or stupid offer that they made. So don’t get worked up about it.

Speaker 3: Are you talking about a state farm or a progressive insurance making an offer that’s low ball?

Speaker 2: Just like you talked about your $180,000 offer and they offer you $20,000 of the company, but your contractor says $180,000. They’re serious penalties for acting stupid in our world. Serious.

They are enforced. And if everyone just understood that, you go, wait, hold on. You think the decision makers, whether it’s your peers or judges, don’t understand the importance of this. They, these are all intelligent people, whether it’s jurors or judges, they know what to look out for, what not to look out for.

And they understand when people are not being treated fairly. Nobody wants you overcompensated. We just want you fairly compensated. This is not the times in insurance company to play games.

You’re going to get your ass hammered and it’s going to be fun. And they don’t care, frankly. They really don’t. People think they’re taking this big loss. No, they’re not.

Speaker 3: Because their pockets are deep or

Speaker 2: reserves for all this exact type of situation and they know they’re going to eliminate, you know, and it’s not the exact percentage, but data shows that they’re going to eliminate so many people in that first wave who were susceptible to a low ball offer. That it’s over. You know, they don’t care what happens. They don’t care how many times are in bad faith and Brad penalized them because they made a low offer.

But people, if you just calm down or going to be rewarded, if you take those steps, if you’ve documented everything, if you looked at your correspondence, if you set up your bad faith claim, if you had the right selection and attorney, things are going to work out. And look, we’re by no force saying we are the only game around. That’s not what we’re saying at all. We’re saying there’s a lot of pretenders as well.

So be careful in who you choose. Do your homework. That’s all ask of anybody. Do your homework and things will be fine and don’t panic.

It’s going to be good. And there’s procedure in place right now adopted by the court that can exactly accelerate these claims to where people don’t have to wait. The vast majority don’t have to wait for some type of settlement once things get going. But we are so early in the game now.

But the few estimates we are getting back from people and the calls we get, they are freaking out and we’re sitting back. It’s, you know, it’s, it’s hard to tell someone, don’t worry. I get it. I’m in your shoes and do the same thing, but I’m not in your shoes, but I get it. I don’t think you’re crazy for being scared or feeling desperate because it’s tough times, man. People are, people are hurting. And I hope they know that there’s help everywhere. Just don’t panic and don’t make rash emotional decisions.

Speaker 3: If somebody files a claim September 8th, on average, when would they see some money?

Speaker 2: Fowl a claim with the insurance company. Man, that is such across the board. There’s so many examples. Some have filed a claim on September 8th. They haven’t even had an adjuster come out. Some have filed on the eighth and adjuster was there on the 15th.

And here we are 16 days later or 19 days later, whatever it may be, and they’ve received an offer. So there’s certainly, there’s no, there’s no rhyme or reason. All we know is at the time of adjustment, and that’s one way to kick off that bad faith. They have 30 days to make a good faith tender. That mean they will.

Speaker 3: Good faith tender, meaning good faith offer. Correct. Okay.

Speaker 2: Undisputed tender, good faith, undisputed tender. In other words, if your roof blows off, you better make some sort of reasonable good faith tender of that money. It doesn’t mean your claims released when they tender, by the way.

There’s no release for any further claims. I’m just saying they have that duty. That doesn’t mean they all follow it. They’re overwhelmed and many slip through the cracks. Don’t get worked up about it. Smile. Because that’s their ass.

Speaker 3: Are they expecting a counter?

Speaker 2: You know, one of the situations that I’ve dealt with recently put the claimant on the, to show their hand, which I thought was really weird, right? So the adjuster comes out. You’re on day 18 or 20.

I forget where it was somewhere in that area. And the correspondence from the adjuster says, hey, look, we want to pay your claim, but we want you to submit your bid first. Well, one of the problems is not many people have access to contractors right now to even get a bid to send to them. Second of all, wouldn’t the hell you worried about me bidding against myself for? You, as the insurer, have the duty to make a reasonable tender, good faith tender in that period. I’m not obliged to answer you or not.

Who the hell is going to show their courts first? And I’m not suggesting you don’t cooperate there on the clock, not you. You know what I mean?

So yes, eventually I’m going to send you one, but they need to understand most people even to access to. That’s one of the, the biggest problems we’re seeing right now. People have called contractors and I’m not blaming them. They’re just completely overworked right now that they can’t get to them. They can’t get an estimate to them, but it’s okay. Don’t let that scare you.

They still have a duty to tender money based off of their adjustment. You know what I mean? What I tell you after, I don’t have to agree with what you said, but you know, everything is different.

The one thing that is consistent, once they have sufficient proof of loss, whether that’s the adjustment or you sending in an estimate, they’re on the clock and it starts ticking. So, you know, I can’t, I can’t hammer it enough. If they don’t make that offer in time, great. Go drill them.

Speaker 3: And if you do face a situation where you’ve got, let’s say it’s even $80,000 worth of damage, but you’re being offered $20,000 to $30,000 from the insurance company, from the adjuster, is that a time to contact an attorney?

Speaker 2: I think that’s low. There’s no quantified amount that says if you don’t make a 10 of at least 80% of what their estimate may be. You’re in bad faith. That’s not how that works. I think it’s a case by case basis. It’s no different than if you have $20,000 of damage and they offer you one versus $210,000.

You know what I mean? So the magnitude of the claim amount is not what dictates bad faith or the gap between that. Bad faith is just not a reasonable offer or tender.

Speaker 3: And bad faith isn’t a legal term, correct? It is in our world. Oh, it is.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Okay. So it’s extremely the utmost importance. I just can’t harp on that enough. If you brought one weapon to that fight, that’s the weapon you’re bringing.

Speaker 3: The fact that they made a bad faith offer. Yes, sir. So they need to try to be fair. I mean, they’re legally obligated to try to make a fair offer. That’s correct.

Speaker 2: Except the actuaries know that across the board, all those low offers, the amount of people that accept them for the benefit of that four out ways, the potential of being found in bad faith on the back end. That’s a fact. That’s scary.

Speaker 3: Would you encourage people not to ever accept that first offer?

Speaker 2: I would encourage people never after doing your own assessment. Prior to doing your own assessment, AKA a professional, never. You don’t know. I mean, look, we’ve got guests later on in the show. They’re going to tell you things that they find.

We have an inspector from Berg that comes in and he’s going to tell you what he’s finding. Things that are compromised that our eyes aren’t seeing. It’s not holes.

It’s not something that’s visible. Someone has to literally go up and inspect these things. How can you expect an adjuster to have this fair offer that didn’t go in your attic, didn’t go in your roof, he didn’t check the interior of your walls.

If you told him there was water damage, he didn’t look at your structure and do anything. Let’s be real. They spent about an hour over there and you’re saying, that’s cool. What’s not cool is when you got to go sell that house in five years that’s full of mold or it’s rotting because you didn’t handle your business now.

And that’s part of the calming down effect I keep explaining to people. Take your time. Do your due diligence. Do not rush into anything. And it doesn’t mean their offer won’t be a good faith offer. It just means do your homework too before you accept anything. And unfortunately you can say that to people in the face. It’s not how it’s going to pan out.

Speaker 3: Someone who has a pending claim and or is debating filing an insurance claim. What advice do you have for them right now?

Speaker 2: The one minute version of the most important advice I can give at this point with this storm litigation is fairly simple and I can do it under a minute. We referenced a hurricane file and I cannot harp on how important that is.

Every piece of documentation, anything, any photographs, estimates, receipts, they all need to be concisely organized into one file. And when I’m speaking about correspondence, please do not forget when you send an email to make sure you ask for a receipt red return type deal. Where we know that it’s confirmed they have received and they have read your email. Same thing if you’re sending any type of letter, send it certified mail. And absolutely get the advice of a professional whether it’s a roofer, a contractor, both an inspector.

And you cannot possibly settle these claims without seeking the advice and making dang sure that your structural integrity of your house and all the things that you really can’t see, you have to make sure that those things are going to be okay before you debate settling any claim whatsoever with a release to follow. Documentation is king here. Just like one of our guys, Jim Ryan, states that is the most important thing that you can do. So don’t over underestimate it. If you’re going to have a conversation, put a pen in your hand and write it down. So just make sure that you do those things at this point in time. And lastly, just take a deep breath, calm down and do not make irrational decisions based off of emotion. That is going to cost you in the long run. But if you can do what I said and stay calm, things are going to be all right one with the other.

Whether you need an attorney or you don’t need an attorney, things are going to be okay if you can be calm, exercise a little patience, and keep on keeping on essentially.

Speaker 3: Well said, my man. I’m going to give listeners a little inside baseball here. When I have a guest on, I send them an email and it’s just a few bullet points to let them know what they can do to prepare. And I say limit your ums and us, speak with conviction, give actionable advice when it’s warranted.

Just like Matt said, document, document, document, take a deep breath and all will be well. Good job, my man. Let’s turn it over to our guest. Sounds good, buddy. Hi, bro.

Speaker 2: Our second guest today on the AMO show is Dwayne Waxer with Santi Clean. Dwayne, thank you for coming on the show. My pleasure. We had quite the all-store lineup last night and I’m not including myself, but we had the pleasure last night to have dinner with yourself.

Rick Corder, who’s a public adjuster and Jerry Bond, who is a certified industrial hygienist. Yes, we did. It was a little intimidating for me in there. I gotta tell you, it was a

Speaker 4: lot of technicality going on in there. A lot of brain power in the room. A lot of scientific jargon. Hopefully it was simplified enough to get a grasp on what they do and the complexities of their professions.

Speaker 2: Yeah, man. It was entertaining. I tell you what, I went home and I actually read his book or I couldn’t cover all of it, but really good read. I’ll talk about that at some point later today, but I was very impressed and gained a ton of knowledge yesterday. But back to you. So, tell us, what is Santi Clean?

Speaker 4: We are a water mitigation and remediation contractor out of Alpharetta, Georgia. And what we do is we specialize in storm work. So that can be storm-related work, which can be hurricanes, flood events, or fire events.

Speaker 2: All right. So, Dwayne, tell us what is the most important thing that someone can do after a storm as it pertains to their insurance claim? Documentation.

Speaker 4: Elaborate. A lot of documentation. It’s throughout the whole process. So, if you are in your structure during the storm, you’re wanting to take pictures, videos, document, any kind of activity, any kind of water, any kind of pictures that would relate to maybe if it’s safe being taking pictures of the wind or what’s happening outside. If you are not in the structure during the event, and it was a mandatory evacuation, which I suggest that you heed those types of warnings. You want, as quickly as you can get back to the property safely, or you’re able to re-enter, you want to take the videos, take the pictures, do the documentation.

You cannot have too many. You want to take different angles of each room. You want to take pictures of the damage. You want to take exterior pictures. Whether you think there’s damage or not, it’s a total photographic file or video file of your structure inside and out.

Speaker 2: One of the things last night that, and not just last night, I’m watching this now as claims progress, documentation, right? It sounds elementary, but it goes further. It’s not just documentation in the initial process. It’s documenting or saving every email. When you send an email to an adjuster, getting a red receipt that’s coming back, confirming they’ve read the email.

If you’re sending mail, send it certified mail with return requested. These are things that people are doing. Everyone in documentation, I can’t harp enough.

I’ve heard it. Document, document, document. I get it, and it’s absolutely correct, but follow through, right? I mean, you can’t just document the beginning stage and say, this is my adjuster and this is my claim number. Everything from A to Z should be documented. Am I wrong?

Speaker 4: Yes. Yes. You need to document all of those. And those are all great tips that are going to really make sure that you get your home rebuilt and getting the proper coverage, getting the proper amount of money that you need to properly mitigate the property, which mitigation is where you are basically stopping any further damage to your property. That’s the essence of mitigation.

Speaker 2: All right. And speaking of mitigation, the type of mitigation you primarily deal with is water mitigation, correct? That’s correct. All right. So this is the part that fascinates me the most since I’ve met you through today and through the last month, the distinction of the type of water as it pertains to hurricane water. I want you to elaborate on that because from the beginning to now, it’s still neat to me to listen to you break this down.

Speaker 4: So explaining in our industry, water is broken down into three categories. Category one water would, in our industry and coming in would be if such if you had a a pipe break in your house. So that’s clean water that’s coming into your house that can be cleaned up just as if you would, if you spilled a glass of water. So obviously, you have wet material, you need to dry it, it’s clean, it’s not really a hazard to your health as long as it’s addressed quickly. Category two water is going to be, for instance, if you’re dishwasher overflowed. So you’ve got some contaminated water, but it’s not really dangerous to your health, but still needs to be addressed and removed and dried properly. Category three water is the worst kind of water and that is would be a sewage overflow, a sewage backup, or hurricane water. So what I mean by that is you would think that hurricane water is just plain rainwater.

It’s not. The hurricane is picking up as it’s turning through the Gulf, saltwater as it reaches land, it’s picking up herbicides, pesticides, it’s going through petroleum plants, you’ve got toxins, you’ve got heavy metals. All of this is in the water that’s being driven into your house or entered through your house through some type of entry.

Speaker 2: Okay, I get it. Category one, category two, category three. But you said category three is the worst kind. Why is that so relevant as it pertains to a claim? What are the extra steps taken? What goes into this?

Speaker 4: So that’s why the inspection process is so important when you’re dealing with category three water. You have, as that water has entered your home, you really don’t know what’s inside your walls.

So if you have an entry, you have cat three water and you have a piece of your face you blow off and that water enters your wall, you may not see any visible damage on the wall where that water came in. But now you have toxins or heavy metals or contaminants behind there that are hidden. That can then cause, it can be soon, it can be three or four, five years down the road and can start to cause environmental concerns within your home. So if they’re not addressed properly right now, then you may be liable for remediation, mold remediation or some type of clearing of these contaminants in your home down the road. And including saltwater, saltwater can also be corrosive to electrical systems within your house. So now you can have electrical issues, whereas you thought the wall was dry and now you’ve got, you know, corrosive issues within the electrical system of your home.

Speaker 2: All right, Duane, we’re talking right now about category two, category one, category three water. Let’s be clear about something. Any category of a storm, category one, two, three, four, five, regardless of the designation of the numerical digit in front of it, that’s still category three water, correct?

Speaker 4: That’s correct. There’s no correlation between a category, what we’re talking about, category three relating to a hurricane category three. That’s a different category. Those are hurricane categories one through five. We’re talking about the categories of water. So category three is always any hurricane one through five will be category three water.

Speaker 2: All right, that’s clear. So we’ve talked about mitigation, what it is, but the bottom line is why is it so important to mitigate?

Speaker 4: Mitigation is a, for a couple of reasons, is a very crucial step in the recovery of your home, your property, your asset, properly mitigating a property. One serves as bringing your house back to good health.

And what that means is following a process of doing an inspection, whether or not you think you have damage, you can see damage or you, if you do have no idea if you have damage, it’s good to have an inspection. It’s good to have someone come in and with the proper equipment to look at moisture levels within your home. And then it’s also for long-term health of your home and property value. Your house is going to be changing throughout this process after a storm event. So mitigation is not necessarily something that happens directly after the storm. We see mitigation projects that run three months, four months, still even in Lake Charles, we’re still seeing mitigation projects a year later due to the fact that things are still changing with your home.

There’s still damage that’s going to be occurring or you’re going to see things that are going to be due to that storm event way down the road, long after the storm has passed and maybe another storm was on the way.

Speaker 2: Well, tell me this, for all those handymen out there, would it be wise for me as the homeowner to mitigate or do we turn that over to you?

Speaker 4: I always suggest finding a reputable licensed mitigation contractor to do an inspection or an assessment. There may be some items based on their evaluation and inspection, things that you can do, but the danger in doing that, if there is damage and inspection’s done and those items have been identified and you choose to handle them on your own, one, you’re helping the insurance company out, two, you’re erasing evidence that may be very relevant down the road and also being able to properly document the damage in your home. When a mitigation report is put together, it includes a detailed estimate which is done in industry standard software called Exactimate. What this does is when we do an assessment, we basically line out how many linear feet of baseboard, how many square feet of sheetrock, content, and so on.

All of these things are measured and put into report and this is the basis and foundation of how an insurance company is going to look at what you are allowed or the money you’re going to be allowed on your rebuild on the restoration side.

Speaker 2: An Exactimate that is at a moving target, does it fluctuate every month, is it updated?

Speaker 4: The prices are updated on a monthly basis based on region and also demand of materials and labor. So they do their best on updating those prices.

Speaker 2: Dwayne, who sets pricing for your company? Are your services, I should say?

Speaker 4: The program that we use Exactimate, the prices are set. So we put in the square footages, the linear feet, the damages that we see. That also includes the drying process. We put in how many days for de-mitifiers, how many days for fans, and those prices are pre-populated. So for instance, we’re company A and there’s company B and we go in and we do the same assessment, the same inspection and find the same materials that need to be removed. The pricing will be the same between A and B. There is no difference in pricing.

Speaker 2: So we know right now the price of a baseboard and I’m making these numbers up right now but if we looked at the software right now, I could say that baseboard per linear foot to tear out is a dollar and 18 cents. That piece of drywall is X amount. Correct?

Speaker 4: That’s correct. So we, there’s no variance in pricing. Everybody is getting paid in the estimate and what insurance is looking at is the same price per linear foot. So this is different than maybe either way a general contractor or handyman’s going to price. They may do a blanket per square foot price for whatever they take out and that includes baseboards and all that but that’s undocumented, removal and demolition. That’s really just doing demolition. It’s not really the mitigation that needs to be done to your home.

Speaker 2: All right. So a homeowner requests your services. How should they expect this process to go?

Speaker 4: The process to put it in some easy and standard steps would be you have a storm event. You know you’re going to call your insurance carrier. They’re going to issue a claim number. They may suggest, if you tell them you have damage, they may suggest a national chain mitigation, remediation, contractor.

You get to make the choice on who you want to use. You do not have to use who the insurance company says and actually some of the national chains or some of the contractors have a good relationship with the carriers which may not be in your best interest. But once you call and you have a mitigation, you have an inspection done, you’ll then speak and work with that company to decide how quickly or if the damage is not that great. If you need to find another place to live, if you need to move out contents, pack out contents, move things around, once the mitigation starts and the demolition starts, that process is usually fairly quick. In most cases, once that mitigation is done, the structure is dried, but the insurance company is going to demand or request a re-inspection. You’re going to want to not do anything with your property, no rebuilding, no replacing sheetrock, do not replace anything until that re-inspection comes.

That’s a very important part to the process. Most policies read that until a re-inspection is done, no repairs or no improvements are to be done per your policy. So you could be losing out on some things if you decide to jump the gun and start building things back. And then once they’re built back, they go ahead and you now have enough money to rebuild and you feel confident that that should be the other process.

If you start running into issues or money, you’re not getting the money for the rebuild, then you’re going to have to seek other services such as a public adjuster or an attorney.

Speaker 2: Good deal, man. I appreciate it. That was super informative for our listeners and we appreciate having you, man. Appreciate it. Thanks for having me.