How To Get Paid What You’re Owed When You Have An Insurance Claim With Jack Hanks | EP. 177

How safe is your insurance claim? How do you ensure that any claim that you make is paid fairly by the insurance company? This is a discussion that Eric Anderton and CEO and president of Velocity Public Adjusting, Jack Hanks, take on in this episode. Jack has had deep experience since 1989 in the space of public adjusting. He shares his insights on how contractors can maximize their payout from their insurance companies. Tune in as they talk about how vital documentation is and how it’s important to ensure that you have the right coverages in place for the projects you’re building.

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How To Get Paid What You’re Owed When You Have An Insurance Claim With Jack Hanks

You have insurance and claim. How do you ensure that any claim that you make is paid fairly by the insurance company? That is a discussion that me and my guest, Jack Hanks, who is the CEO and President of Velocity Public Adjusting have on this show. He has deep experience since 1989 in the space of public adjusting. As such, he has insights into how contractors can maximize the payout that they receive from their insurance companies. We talk specifically about how vital documentation is and how it’s so important to make sure that you have the right coverages in place for the projects that you’re building.

In honor of The Godfather’s 50th anniversary, we talk a lot about how to separate emotion from business decisions. It’s not personal. It’s business. Sometimes when it comes to those claims and I would submit many times when it comes to those insurance claims, you have to separate your emotions and make a business decision so that you can maximize the amount of money that you get paid without having to go through the pain and agony of unnecessary and probably unfruitful litigation. Enjoy my conversation with Jack. Give us a rating or a review wherever you get your shows and share the show with other people. Thanks again for reading.

Jack, welcome to the show.

Thank you very much. We’re excited to be here.

I’m excited to have you on because we’re going to talk about an area of pain, difficulty and challenge. We’re going to talk about claims, so let’s dive right into it. Why do contractors get underpaid on their claims?

The biggest reason I can tell you, like in any business, yours, mine, the contractors, the insurance companies now are very much for-profit organizations and they’re more worried about their premiums and their shareholders getting a profit return than paying out the proper amounts on an insurance claim. They’re controlling the input of the money and they’re controlling the output of the money as well, which makes it extremely difficult when you do have a claim. When you’re fighting a Goliath with a little pebble, it’s an unfair fight. It’s a very unbalanced playing field, unfortunately.

Do you know any insurance companies where that’s not the case or have you been able to develop relationships with people where you’ve made the process smoother?

I’ve been doing this since 1989, about midway through the 90s. It changed a little bit when a company called McKinsey did a report for Allstate. I was a restoration contractor back in the day, early on in my career. We used to meet the adjuster on-site, go over everything, and they used to stroke us a check for what was fair and reasonable. We go get the work done and move on. Now, it’s all about profit-driven entities and making sure the shareholders are compensated, and the presence of these insurance companies are compensated. Insurance companies have become large marketing firms.

Every sporting event, you’re at or you watched on TV, Allstate, State Farm, Nationwide, Peyton Manning, they’re heavily marketing, get those dollars to roll in and then they’ve created a path to control the out cash lay of the claim process. It has changed dramatically. I’m not saying all insurance companies or all adjusters are evil. I’m saying they have a different approach of doing business than most companies like ours. We’re the watchdog of that to make sure we try to get things on a level playing field for everyone, so everybody has a fair shot of being compensated properly is the key. Not overcompensated, not under-compensated, but compensated fairly and whatever the right number is.

Let’s explore that a little bit. You understand both sides of the business. When you say fair compensation, what do you mean?

If you have a claim and it’s a $10,000 claim, you should receive $10,000, not $3,000, not $4,000 or $30,000, but $10,000. As public adjusters, our motto, credo and ethical duty are to get the claim adjusted correctly. The policy is a driving force to if there’s coverage on the data loss, what does that entail and how much does it cost to get those repairs done? That’s what we’re looking at.

We’re going to certainly side with the insured on that to make sure they’re treated fairly. If you think about it, the insurance company logically wants to pay the minimum amount they can, if anything at all, to keep their profits in-house. They have every right to do so, but at the same time, I’m not sure how fair that is.

What can a contractor do to prepare for claims because claims are going to happen with every company so that the process is as smooth as possible?

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The first thing to know is to know your policy. Like all of us, the last thing you want to do is write a big insurance check for that coverage and policies because it’s a big pain in the butt and it’s expensive and you never ever need it until you really need it is the problem. Like all of us, you go buy a house or you buy your business liability insurance and the first thing out of everyone’s mouth is, “I need to save as much as I can. What’s the bottom-line coverage I can get to get, so I’m not exposed much? I want to take a little bit of risks.”

The problem is we get these policies, especially in commercial policies, we have some policies that are four or 500 pages long. There are multiple carriers involved. We have one in Texas that I got in that had three different policies and it took us over two and a half hours to read through it to find the exact deductible that was owed to the client for that particular hailstorm, but it took myself and two of my staff members going through that thing to get the right information for the client because it’s a big document and it’s very confusing.

They give coverages, take coverages away, added backend over here, certain criteria have to be met, and there are certain duties that the policyholder has to have when they do have a claim. The biggest thing I can tell everyone is to do a great policy review. Brokers and agents usually try to do a good job of getting the things done correctly, but at the end of the day, unfortunately, it’s buyer beware. Wherever you write that check for, whatever the policy you buy, you own that thing for a year, good or bad, or whatever exclusions you said you’re up for are usually the ones you need when the claim does happen.

You got to be very diligent on that and be very proactive to know what you have before something happens. When you do have a claim, stop everything you’re doing and document the living hell out of it like what time and photos. You can’t take enough photos. We tell our clients, “Write a little narrative. Here’s what happened.”

What would be step one?

Stop whatever the heck you’re doing.

When you say stop, who should stop?

Whoever the client is with the claim.

Let’s say, I’m a commercial contractor. I’m running a bunch of different projects. I get a claim. Should it be the project manager, the project executive or the CEO who needs to stop?

If it’s a contractor who has a claim on one of his jobs, he needs to stop everything he’s doing on that particular job and start taking a million photos and documenting exactly who, what, when and why it happened. Don’t make any concrete decisions on your own, and photographs paint the picture, and also, you want to do your own narrative. You want to control that scene. You don’t want to start making a mess for everybody, so nobody knows what the heck’s going on and contaminating the environment because there is going to be an investigation done.

I’ve stopped and what you were saying is the first thing I should do is send someone out to the job site to take photographs and begin to build a narrative of what’s occurred. That means I need to make sure that my guys and gals are not working in the area of the claim. When you say a narrative, what goes into an excellent narrative that is going to maximize my ability to get my money?

COGE Jack Hanks | Insurance Claims
Insurance Claims: Businesses are for-profit organizations and are more worried about their premiums than paying out the proper amounts on an insurance claim.

 

Weather conditions, timing, and conditions of the job, who was present and who saw what. Think about one of those crime shows, those forensic files. Every little hair and screw. What caused the damage? Why did it happen? Was it a weather-related incident? Is it raining like crazy? Was it hailing? How did the fire start? Another big thing is that whoever’s involved or saw what happened, make sure you have their information because you’re going to want their testimony on it, especially on a larger claim. You got to want all the facts in the findings that come out.

You want to want all the people on your side that saw what happened, so get their information, phone numbers, email addresses and driver’s licenses. Some people are going to not want to get involved. Once again, it’s all about data collection and keeping the integrity of the scene of the claim. We tell our clients, “You cannot have enough photos. You cannot have enough information for us.”

What about video?

Videos are great. We’ve had a lot of hail and tornado claims won simply because the owner of the property, while they’re standing there, has their camera phone out and they’re videotaping the hail coming down on their property. Basically, you are pinpointing the time of the claim, exactly what happened and the size of whatever happened. Photos and film don’t lie. None of us can change that. Facts are facts.

Should I be interviewing people who are on the job site? Should I do that stuff? How admissible is that in your experience?

It’s very admissible. Here’s the thing. People’s memory fades. You and I are not going to remember what exactly we talked about a few weeks ago, but five minutes from now, we will. You want to get as many facts to accumulate as you can quickly because, once again, if I see a car wreck now and want to talk about it five weeks from now, I may not have all the facts straight.

I’ll forget what time it was. I may forget what day it was. I may forget if the guy was turning left, right or sideways. We were all busy, and things were going on. Like all of us, that is not that important to us five weeks from now, but it’s fresh in our minds and memories, so you want to collect all that data. In a claim process, you’re guilty until proven innocent.

What do you mean you’re guilty until proven innocent?

The burden of proof is on the insured. Here’s what happened and why it happened. The insurance company’s going to do everything they can to find a way not to cover that because they don’t want to write checks. They’re going to try to find a way like, “Here’s the exclusion for this, and here’s why.” You want to pepper them with data so that you want to limit your exposure of risk there. You want to build your case up.

This is critical. I’m going to slow through this so that we’re clear. You got to stop. That’s the first one, and then document and get the rich data, video, photographs and people’s information. You then are building the narrative. Between stop and narrative building, how much time should I leave there?

You want to do it as quickly as possible. Once again, it’s all fresh in everyone’s memory. On a larger claim, you want to get ahold of your risk manager and a broker. If it is a larger claim, you may want to think about bringing a third party, either a public adjuster and/or an attorney in to make sure that you’re represented properly because once again, if you think about it, Nationwide and Farmers and all, they have all their experts lined up already, who are professionals at handling a claim.

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If you’re a contractor, you are an expert at building a building, reading blueprints, getting vendors and subs, and things like that, claim processing is a different world and it’s completely foreign to most people out there, like building a building is foreign to me, I have no idea. It’s not my expertise. You want to have someone on your side, a public adjuster or an attorney, to take a look at everything and make sure it’s all going to be copacetic and okay.

People get hesitant with that a little bit because “I’m going to trust them.” I get that at the same time, if you’re talking about a large loss with millions of dollars at stake, I wouldn’t. If I break my arms and I’m going to the orthopedic surgeon, I’m not going to the drive-through mechanic to look at it. I want to go to my experts. You guys hire architects to draw plans. You don’t hire a plumber to draw architect plans, it’s the same thing.

What is the biggest mistake you see contractors make even if they’re doing this documentation process? What do they tend to miss that bites them in the butt later on?

Sometimes they have a tendency, like in all of us, they over-talk. Sometimes it’s okay to listen. You don’t have to over-talk.

Give me an example of that. What do you mean by that?

The minute we get a notice of repudiation signed by our client, some of the insurance company says right on there, you’re done talking to the carrier. You are done speaking to them because carriers, if it’s gray, it’s going to go towards them. If there’s a middle area, that’s not for sure on coverage. They’re going to lean towards them, either deny or underpay the claim. We tell our folks it’s okay to say, “I’m not sure.” You don’t have to answer all these questions. They’re trying to put you in light. Let your team behind you, who you hired to do the investigation than answering those vague, difficult questions.

Once again, you’re probably guilty until you’re proven innocent for these clients. One word can change the whole narrative. The word may be or I’m not sure, or maybe it was on this day. It could change a lot of things. You got to be very careful. Unfortunately, it’s how it is. People don’t get that until they experience it. Their head starts spinning and then the next thing, the insurance company has 8,000 pages of documentation, and we’re coming in with none. We’re like, “Oh my Lord.” It’s difficult.

I stopped, got the document, built a narrative, and then, from what you’re saying then is reach out to third parties, if necessary, in order to get some help. In your role as a public claims adjuster, what is the help that you bring to the table that is most beneficial?

Number one, we’re licensed to handle these claims. My firm is licensed in 38 states across the country. We know the laws and the statutes and how these policies reap. Every policy is very quirky and different. Once again, one word, the policy can change the entire narrative of the claim in the policy. We dissect those policies down to a science to find out. We want to put the client in the best light possible, so these claims are paid efficiently.

We review these policies, head to toe, backwards, frontwards, upside down and inside out to find exactly what they have and don’t have. That’s what we do. At the same time, we are experts in preparing a proof of loss and estimates. We compile the data for a very tight submission package to the carrier because we know what they’re looking for. We know how to get these.

It’s like your CPA doing your taxes. They know exactly how to take all this stuff you give them and package it up, so it’s in your best light. When it’s sent to the IRS, it flies through, you get your refund or your minimal payout, you’re done and it’s clean. It’s the same thing on a claim. We know how to take this big pile of stuff that’s burned and documentation and put it all together in a narrative in a submission where it makes sense and it’s true and factual. It’s going to go through the system a little bit easier than if you’re trying to do it on your own.

COGE Jack Hanks | Insurance Claims
Insurance Claims: Don’t make any company’s decisions on your own.

 

You’re an expert at understanding insurance policies and where the person or the insured stands in terms of being able to collect from a claim. What is, in your experience, are the main errors that contractors make when entering into an insurance policy? What’s usually missing where it’s repetitive? Give me some feedback.

There are a lot of exclusions out there, asbestos, mold, contaminants, pollutants and things like that. Especially for the restoration guys, a lot of them have a heck of a time getting coverage to do the mold and asbestos work because it’s deadly if it’s not handled properly. It’s very difficult. In the roofing community, you have to have a certain policy and license to do any work over a third-story in many states.

A lot of guys don’t have the proper coverage to do hot mopping. Back in the day, hot mopping was a big deal, not so much anymore, but it still happens. Once again, you have to have a certain policy in place to perform high roof installation and hot mopping. If you don’t and you have a claim, it’s not going to be covered and you can lose your whole business in two seconds.

I’m a contractor purchasing insurance or up for renewal or something like that. I’m looking at my options. The process that I have for purchasing insurance and the type of insurance I purchase has a tremendous impact on when I have a claim. What advice would you have for contractors to make sure that when they’re buying insurance, it’s going to help them to get paid when they need to get paid in the future?

Once again, I’d have a third-party look at it. Not your agent or broker, have an attorney or public adjuster look at it, and also have your clients look at it because a lot of times the contractors have clients that have certain specific language of a policy, they need to have to do the work to be on their vendor list. The large property management companies like CBRE, Richard Ellis have a whole portfolio of stuff. “Here’s what I need to have the coverage for you to be able to do the work.”

I would take all that stuff and say, “Broker guy, here’s what I need to do this work,” and then when you get it back, double-check it to make sure that X plus Y equals Z. You’re not leaving something out because you could get the work done and then they could find a loophole and not get you paid. I don’t think people understand this, but insurance policies are contracts.

You are contractually bound with your insurance company. You have duties to perform and they have duties to perform. Your duty is to pay the premium and then mitigate any damages and report the loss of a certain amount of time. There are certain conditions of that policy that all insureds have to live with when a claim does happen.

It’s the same thing on the other side when a claim does happen. The insurance company has certain conditions they have to do procedurally per statute of law to get the thing handled. You have to watch on both sides of those and you can have a valid claim and not perform the duties properly per your policy. It’s going to be void and not going to get paid. You lose your license and business. You are going to get sued.

It’s a horrible situation to be in. It seems like every time one does try to take a shortcut when the claim happens and that shortcut comes back to bite them. Penny-wise and pound-foolish is exactly what happens. I know workers’ comp is ridiculously high and liability insurance is very high, but at the same time, that $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 a year or whatever you guys spend is life-changing if you don’t have it. It’s scary and expensive, but it’s one of those damned if you do and if you don’t, you’re playing with fire.

If you were a contractor, knowing what you know about the industry and the way things go, how often would you be reviewing your policies and putting your broker to the test on pricing, etc.?

Now, it’s nuts because the materials are out of control, and your costs are through the roof. I’m sure your numbers are through the roof. I would do it probably quarterly, every six months, a year, minimally when up for renewal, but you want to be proactive with that before it happens. On the homeowners’ side, think about it. I live in Scottsdale. In 2021, the housing prices went up 38% in a year. This 2022, it went up 20% already. In the last several months, it went up 58%.

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Most people, I can promise you, are underinsured on their policy, so it’s scary. You’ve got to keep up on all that stuff. When your insurance works on your side, it’s all based on volume. A $10 million contractor is going to pay a heck of a lot more than a $1 million contractor. Those numbers have to be true every year and quarter. You got to look at that. It’s expensive and difficult, but you can never have enough great insurance.

Give me a story, if you can think of one, when an insurance company surprised you in terms of the level of service they provided and their interaction with one of your clients in a positive way.

Here’s the cool part. We have a lot of great relationships on the other side. There are a lot of great adjusters on the other side of these carriers. We are very fortunate and pretty well-respected because we’re fair. We get a lot of claims and deals are done standing in the parking lot and I call them parking lot deals where you’re talking through it. Our job is to give them the right information and they need to get the thing bought.

One of my contractors in Houston was struggling mightily with the claim and it was a big HOA roof claim. It was with Chubb Insurance and they were struggling to get it paid. They got us involved and I made one phone call and evidently, the contractor wasn’t structuring his paperwork correctly to get the balance of the money released. We came in and filled two pieces of paper out and got it off. In about nine days, I had a check on my desk for the contractor.

That’s an interesting insight there because sometimes the pain that we experience dealing with these large institutions isn’t necessarily because they’re trying to hose us, it’s because we don’t know how to interact with them correctly.

Keep in mind, my company has certain procedures, rules and guidelines we have to adhere to. If my guys go outside of those rails, it’s a problem. Large corporations have rules. Insurance companies have rules and the Department of Insurance has rules, statutes and guidelines to live by with certain forms. Every time we contract, we have 38 different contracts for every state we work in because they’re all different and guided by the Department of Insurance. It’s the same thing with these corporations you guys work for. I’m sure they have a vendor packet sent out immediately to you guys saying, “When you guys are ready to bill, I need X, Y and Z sent here with linear leases to this email address with this documentation or it’s not going to happen.”

I’m curious about these parking lot deals. What is it that helps you to close those parking lot deals, so to speak? What are you focused on when you’re going into those conversations to make sure that things get moving along?

The biggest thing is a sense of fairness. I asked the adjuster on the other side, what they needed from us to get this thing done. It is a negotiation. The biggest challenge for us as public adjusters or in a law firm handling insurance litigation claims is getting coverage established. Once we get the coverage established, then we’re in negotiation time. You’re throwing numbers back and forth all the time.

It’s crazy what happens behind the scenes. We’re trying to find the sweet spot where the insured is made whole, the contractor can be profitable and at the same time, we’re treating the insurance company fairly. They’re not overpaying at the same time because they certainly don’t want to do that. If we become that guy, we’re going to have a heck of a hard more time getting these claims negotiated and settled if we’re overcharging every time. We’re looked at as the public adjuster that’s overcharging.

Fair is fair on both sides and that’s what we try to strive for. We have a pretty good reputation, I feel and I’ve been told that we’re very fair. Our reports come in, they’re accurate and they’re data-driven. There’s no emotion or feeling or pie in the sky stuff on those things. If this laptop is damaged and it’s $2,300, our invoice is going to show $2,300.

When you’re going into a negotiation and I’m curious because we’re always negotiating all day, every day, in all parts of our lives. What are you focused on to prepare yourself to be as effective as possible in a negotiation?

COGE Jack Hanks | Insurance Claims
Insurance Claims: The burden of proof is on the insured. You’ll want to limit your exposure to risk and build your case up.

 

What most people know is that every department of insurance, every state has different guidelines, statutes and laws that the carriers have to live up to as well the insurance. We are constantly going through litigation, looking at what got overturned, where it’s at now or is it a matching state deductibles. It changes by the day. It’s insane.

We’re continually updating that stuff because we have to know what the playing field is when we’re going into these claims. They have a 30-day statute or a 90-day proof of loss statute. If we blow those dates ourselves, the insurance company is not going to tell us, so we have to be up on all that stuff. We have to make sure we’re educated and trained.

We do four trainings a year all over the country for my team and I’ve trained 200 of my competitors as well in the last few years in making sure that our industry as a whole is trying to keep up with these things because it is ever-changing. It’s like you’re running a sprint all the time. Once again, North Carolina and South Carolina have completely different sets of laws. North Dakota and South Dakota are completely different.

One does not look like the other. There are similarities, but at the end of the day, it’s up to us to know that not. The carriers could come out and say, “Here are the statutes we’re going to have to live up to.” Our job is to hold their feet to the fire to ones that we know about and make sure that their process goes in a way it’s supposed to go.

The first thing I’m hearing there is that to be successful in a negotiation, you have to be prepared with the details because some people go into a negotiation and they think, “My gift of the gab is going to help me to get through because I like him and he likes me,” or something like that, but preparation is fundamental in terms of the details of whatever it is you’re negotiating.

Correct, 100% and in every business. Football games, baseball games and anything. Football games are won in practice, not on the field. If you have a good game plan going in and you’re strong with what you’re going in with, have a good grasp of it and are confident, you’re going to win most cases.

Do you ever rehearse your negotiation before going into the meeting with your team?

We have a game plan every time. It’s a chess game with us. If we go in with an $8 million or $10 million estimate upfront, the brakes are going to get put on. It’s going to go to their attorney and this thing’s going to go for two years. What we try to do is to be reasonable upfront and we talked through it. Once we try to get the coverage open and established, they say, “Yes, we have a covered claim.”

Once that’s done, ironically, the money part becomes easy because then you’re talking about, “How much it is now? How many square feet are we doing?” That’s the easy stuff and that’s all science anymore. We have these Tramex machines and I can go on a big commercial building and I can prove how wet it is. That’s what the damages are.

We have meteorologists we use that will pull weather data for a specific property. I can tell you at 11:43 on Sunday if that property had hail or not. If it did, how big the hail was and things like that. It’s all very data-driven and a lot of research goes into this. We have engineers, meteorologists, forensics and accountants. I have staff and all they do is make sure that they’re reading these statutes over and over again. It’s quite a process on these larger claims. It’s insane what goes into them.

It can be years ago but think back to a time when you lost in a negotiation. When you came out and you said, “If I had done X, Y or Z, it would have gone better for my client and me.” What happened in that negotiation?

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I can remember several years ago, it was for lack of experience. I started doing this in 1989 and things have changed. I look back now and I’m like, “I should have got this customer a whole roof instead of half a roof.” There are a million of those in my brain. Now, we got three huge ice dam claims in Telluride, Colorado, from ice damming. Up until a few years ago, we didn’t get the concept of ice damming.

Now, my engineer has educated us enough that we understand the concept of it, so now we’re getting very successful with a bunch of ice damming claims in Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa, where they have these things where a few years ago, I probably didn’t do our due diligence enough. If I got to call them when I didn’t put them in the best light possible to get that bought. That’s a hard lesson to learn, and I get very frustrated with myself. You can’t win every battle, unfortunately.

What’s interesting to me though, also is, let’s say you’re in negotiation with the insurance company and you reach a number that you’re comfortable with, but your client or the contractor is not comfortable with. How do you handle that? When they’re saying, someone’s offering them $1 million and they’re saying, “I want $1.5 million and if not, we’re going to court.” How do you handle that with them?

I’m a notepad guy. I write everything down. It’s a math equation. We’ll walk them through it. It’s like, “You think you want $1.5 million. I got you $1.1 million. We are $400,000 off, which is a profit margin.” It does vary by state. If a state has a great fee statute and we can take them to trial and the attorneys can get their fee paid from the system outside the loss, that’s a different circumstance. Only 4 or 5 states have that.

If we have a state that the attorney fees come off the top of the claim and I’m only a few hundred grand of their difference, it’s probably not worth going to court because even if we do win, the fee statute was such that the attorney fees of 25% or 35% are going to come right off the top. We’re back at the number we were anyway, even if we do win, plus we’re a year and a half down the road, so it doesn’t make sense to settle at the $1.1 million and then have the contractor and the owner figure out a financing solution or credit back the painting or don’t do some of the work.

That’s something that the contractor and the owner have to have some tough discussions on because there are no guarantees when you go to court, you win. “Do you want $1.1 million now? For sure or possibly in a year and a half from now, do you want $1.6 million or $1.7 million and maybe have to end up paying $500,000 of that back to myself and the attorneys?”

What we try to do is keep our insured’s emotions out of it because they get upset and angry. They’re like, “I’ve had enough. It’s been eight months of this and I’m owed this.” They get passionate about it. I feel that and I understand that, but my big thing in being of these claims is, “This claim is a business and it’s got to be handled professionally and it’s got to be non-emotional. It’s all about dollars and cents for all of us. Let’s keep that in mind. I know you want to pound the insurance company with $400,000. I get that and you may be owed that and justified. I can get you there right now, what do you want to do?”

At the end of the day, it is their decision. There are some tough conversations we’ve had. I can only give my opinion through my experiences. We sit down, and 99% of the time, they listen and we tell them, “Go home, have a glass of wine and we’ll talk about it tomorrow, and here are your options.” I never let people make a decision the minute we talk about it because I want them to sit back and think. We’ve got this far and let’s see what we have because it’s either $1.1 million or zero sometimes. That’s scary.

I appreciate the reference there in honor of The Godfather’s 50th anniversary that we need to be reminded that it is business, not personal.

We do a lot of house fires. You go home and your house is burned down. You lost everything, so your emotions were through the roof. We tell our clients that you’re going to have that seven stages of grief with these claims. Anger, frustration and sadness, it’s like a loved one dying. Your wedding album, photo albums and your kids’ trophies are gone. You’re going to go through that. Nine times out of ten, we get these random texts on a Sunday night, all upset.

I’m like, “Ma’am, we spoke about this. Take a deep breath.” It is an emotional trying experience and it’s difficult. When you’re dealing with large numbers, it’s hard and harsh. The insurance company has a lot more zeros in their checkbook available than most corporations. They control the narratives. You get to play their game.

COGE Jack Hanks | Insurance Claims
Insurance Claims: One word can change the entire narrative of the claim and the policy.

 

You said something and I have to ask. In your view, when it comes to the topic of claims and all those kinds of things, what are the best states to do business in? If I’m a contractor and I’m thinking of expanding, what states do I need to expand into?

If you want to do insurance restoration work, the best states are Florida. They have great laws. Colorado has fantastic laws. Minnesota, Washington, Ohio, Tennessee and California have great laws. Texas is fairly okay and the rest of them are not that great. Eighty percent of the time, they are very heavily favored towards the insurance company. Twenty percent of the time, they favored the insured. That’s a function of the statutory regulations and the laws put in place by the Department of Insurance.

You spoke about restoration, but does that go into commercial contracting as well from your experience?

Some states are very lenient towards insurance and they have more protections. In Colorado, for instance, if you have a claim and we can prove bad faith, the insurance company is up for damages. If they go to court and lose, it’s $3 million. It’s all about risk. The carriers in Colorado are a heck of a lot easier and faster-getting claims paid because they don’t want a $50,000 claim becoming a $100,000 claim because that’s what would happen.

In states like Illinois, it’s extremely difficult. There are no statutory fees. If $50,000 is our claim, the attorney and I take 35%, and there’s only $20,000 left. Nothing’s going to happen. The insurance companies know that. They structure those settlements around the laws and statutes as you can imagine they would.

Thank you, Jack. This has been helpful. To review what we’ve talked about so far. When a claim comes in, I got to stop. I’ve got a document and built my narrative. What I have to do is I have to be able to bring in outside help, if necessary, to help me to go through the process. I have to separate emotion from business.

Understand the reality of what I can get versus the challenge of going through the legal system and what I might get in the end or it might not get. I’m thinking again from a strategic point of view. If I’m a construction company and I’m looking to expand, taking into account the way that insurance claims are held can be one aspect of my strategic planning in terms of geographic expansion to different states.

Many roofing companies are doing hail claims in Colorado or roofing contractors wanting to do roof work in Florida because the laws are very lenient. They get a lot of stuff paid down there in those two areas. That’s exactly why there are a million guys there.

You’ve been very generous with your time. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your company, VPA.

Velocity Public Adjusting started last June 2021. I was with another firm for five years and I partnered with other people. They loved the back-office stuff and I love the front office stuff, so it’s been a match made in heaven. We won Public Adjuster of the Year, a few months ago, which is a big kudos for us in our first year. That’s never happened before. We’re pretty excited.

We’re licensed in 38 states. We have seventeen guys all over the place running around doing claims. We have a complete back-office staff. We have a marketing department. I’m very proud of the business we run. We try to do things ethically, morally and fairly for all sides and we work very hard. My biggest selling point for our clients is that we may not be the biggest or the baddest, but no one’s going to outwork us. That’s what we do.

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We have a lot of success and I have great clients that trust us. It’s a crazy ride. We do a lot of hurricane work. We’ve been in New Orleans for the last several months doing that. I wouldn’t change a thing. Thank God. The hardest part for us is that nobody knows what we are. Nobody has ever heard of a public adjuster. The hardest part of selling what we are, are selling the claims, explaining what we do and why we do it. Nobody sees that part until you have something.

If I’m a commercial contractor, when do I get in touch with you?

I’m a big Rolodex fan guy. I would always have a PA, an attorney, and an engineer in my back pocket whenever I needed them because at 3:00 AM, when you needed us, you got to have somebody to call. I have my Rolodex all set for people I need at a drop of a bucket. It’s the same thing with claims. You’ve got to have a PA or an attorney involved. You might as well interview them now before something happens. Have a five-minute conversation with 2 or 3 of us because there’s a fit for everybody.

My personality may not work for whoever, which is great. There are a lot of great PA firms out here. Know who they are, get to know them so when something does happen or you start doing insurance claims as part of your business, you know who your go-to people are. That way, when something happens, it’s a three-minute phone call and you’re ready to roll. You’re not wasting time interviewing or having to worry about it because when the thing’s on fire, the thing’s on fire. That’s when you need us.

How can folks get in touch with you?

The best way is to email. It’s at [email protected]. You can also call or text. My direct number is (480) 766-6565 and I still handle all my own texts and phone calls. I’m old school with that. Communication is big for us and I’m on the phone 14, 15 hours a day talking and doing stuff.

Jack, I appreciate your time. You’ve been very generous with your insights. We’ve got a number of takeaways here and thanks for joining us on the show.

I really appreciate it. Good luck to everybody out there.

Thank you.

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Jack. He was bold enough to share his phone number. If you want to reach out to him and get to know him and his services a little bit more, feel free to reach out to him via (480) 766-6565. That’s one thing I don’t do is share my phone number publicly, only with my clients.

Again, feel free to share this interview with other people that you think would benefit from it. I appreciate you reading. I get messages all the time from folks who get tremendous value from the show. The more people that we can share it with, the more benefit that they can derive. Thanks again for reading. Have a terrific week.

 

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About Jack Hanks

COGE Jack Hanks | Insurance ClaimsJack Hanks is the CEO and President of Velocity Public Adjusting. Reach him via email: [email protected] and phone: 480-766-6565

Jack has exemplary integrity and is solution driven in the public adjusting space. He has extreme concern for his clients and has a keen ability to truly understand, as well as set expectations. Jack is a cornerstone and thought pioneer in the public adjusting space, trains thousands of professionals nationwide, and is a frequent guest & keynote speaker. Jack constantly strives for transparency, fairness, and ensuring property owners are equitably compensated in a time of need and often family tragedy.

Jack is a family man, enjoys spending time with his children, and stays fit when he doesn’t have a busted knee. You can approach Jack with any question and he’s always willing to go above and beyond to help others – even going so far as training his competition to make the industry a better place.