Interview: John Giordano Founder of Giordano Associates

How It Works Part 2 - Insurance Claims - Ploys & Problems
(It's not how you think)

Part 2 of 3 interviews where I'll share information that you can use right now

As a consumer,  I’m always been told my insurance agent was going to help me... Is that true?

John Giordano: No, the agent sells the insurance.

And the insurance company is not looking for their agents to act as adjusters and help settle claims either.

They want them to go out and clients and get commissions and get referrals and bring money into the insurance company.

When you have a claim, that’s money going out, right? And they’ll take care of that end of the business as far as they’re concerned with people that they’ve trained and schooled as to how to payout insurance claims. And they do not teach them or want them to just go out and be frivolous with their actions and settle the claims as quickly as they can. They do not.

They want the claim settled for the least possible dollar amount that they can achieve.

Interviewer: You know when I heard that, it makes business sense, and I get it.

But from a consumer who’s buying this service, I wasn’t happy with that because you know if I was in the school’s situation as an example or even as a homeowner and I have a first time loss, I’m looking at that you know, first time I’ve ever been involved with this. I don’t have any experience in it.

So, I’m kind of counting on who I think I trust and I found out, after you just shared that information that they’re not always working in my best interest.

John Giordano: Absolutely. I don’t really think they’re ever working; insurance companies are ever working in your best interest. They’re working in their best interest. They’ve agreed to insure you for in case you have losses and when you have a loss, they want to come up with the method and the amount that’s going to take and cost for you to repair that loss.

I don’t really think they’re ever working; insurance companies are ever working in your best interest. They’re working in their best interest. Mr. John Giordano

Interviewer: I’ve never heard of a public adjuster. Is there really a need for it? Because again, for all the marketing and advertising, I believe the insurance people and the insurance company and then as I learned more about this business, I said to myself, damn, these guys are business people. They’re looking to cover themselves. They’re not really out to help me as a consumer.

  • I don’t know what to do,
  • how to start,
  • who to trust,
  • how much money,
  • I don’t know anything about it.
  • So I call you and when I do that, whether it’s a commercial claim or residential claim, you come along and you know the rules.
  • You tell me about what you know because you’re really working for me now.
  • You’re not working for the insurance company.
  • You’re looking to get me what I deserve

John Giordano: Absolutely. And they’re not. It’s just as simple as that.

Insurance companies are not looking 
to give you as much as they can to repair your claim. 
They are looking for ways to minimize the recovery. 
And that’s why a public insurance adjuster 
is an advocate for you.  Click To Tweet

The insurance company is sending out their trained, paid-for by them adjusters to calculate the amount of damage and the cost that they’re going to have to incur to give to you to repair that damage. And they would like that to be left up to just them without any professional advice from your part. They don’t mind talking to you because generally once the insured know about they don’t have losses all the time.

The adjusters that are coming out, that is what they do for a living for the insurance company. They’re paid by the insurance company to go out and take care of all the problems that come up that have coverage issues with their insurance. And they’re paid by the insurance company to negotiate that loss and settle that loss as it affects the insurance company’s policy.

Interviewer: Well, can you give me an example of where you walked in and what you did and how that turned out?

 When there’s damage they want to be the only one that has an opinion on how it should be replaced and how much it’s going to cost.

It just doesn’t make sense.

When we come in, the insurance company sends out their insurance adjusters. They come out and they would like to be able to look at the damage, calculate the damage, assess how long it’s going to take to repair it and give you an offer as to what they feel is going to cost the repair and the time it’s going to take to repair that fire or flood or whatever damage has occurred to your property. And I think it’s totally unacceptable to just have the insurance company who issues the policy to you.

When there’s damage they want to be the only one that has an opinion on how it should be replaced and how much it’s going to cost. It just doesn’t make sense. I mean it makes sense for the insurance companies, if we owned an insurance company and we had an insured that had one of our policies and they just had a fire or a flood, we certainly would want them to, hey look, don’t worry about this, I’m going to send out my guy. He’s going to come out there and take a look at everything and give you what he feels is going to take to put it back. Don’t worry about a thing, you’re in good hands. I mean if you believe that I mean everyday should be Christmas. And it’s not.

Interviewer: So, how were you able to help so many people and businesses?

John Giordano: Primarily what I did with this industry, when I got involved in 1978 was after about 10 years, I saw the need to grow and to have professional representation from the public adjusting side for clients, especially for my clients.

That’s when I went out and I looked and hired competent people that I felt could come out with me and negotiate these losses on behalf of my clients. And it worked out fabulously because I was able to then start my own, have my own public adjusting department, you might say. So that I wasn’t a one-man band anymore where I meet you, I’d sign the loss and then after, meet the adjuster then we’ll have to write the building estimate then would have to get the contents inventory done.

So I need to have a firm that would tackle all of these problems like the insurance company has tried to do. But instead of working for the insurance company, work for the insured, work for the people that just had the losses, or the company that just suffered the loss and doesn’t know where to begin or how to start.

So the biggest problems I’ve come up with at times, from time to time is residential or commercial owners that feel, oh, I don’t need a public adjuster, my insurance company is going to send an adjuster.

Why would I want to pay you for to come up and help me?

  • Why wouldn’t you, you know nothing about the process that’s going to presently take place other than the fact that you knew an agent and you purchased the insurance but you don’t know your loss applies to that policy.
  • And you don’t know the dollar value of the items and how that should be depreciated if it’s going to be depreciated.
  • So, you don’t know how to calculate or put together an insurance claim. You really don’t.

 In many cases, there are so many cases you have to do. Take care of your family, go to work. The insurance companies, they like you to just say, don’t worry about anything, our guy is here. He’ll take care of it. And we’ll be fair with you. You can trust us. Well, that’s just not what you should do. It isn’t that you should look at them as if they’re coming out to cheat you but if you look at them as they’re coming out to take care of you and to make sure you’re compensated and to make sure there’s nothing more important going on than your claim and to get you back in the house and that’s what they, these adjusters do every day.

They come out and worry about you and they’re going to look to make sure you have a place to stay and they’re going to make sure that you’re contents are recorded and documented and the amounts are just as much as they possibly can give you. Everything has been maximized so that you have more than enough money to put your life back together again.

You’re dreaming. That does not happen. That is not what they’re paid to do. That is not what they’re trained to do. That is not what they’re told. They’re looking to make sure that they don’t overpay anywhere on this loss. And my job is to make sure they do.

Insurance companies - They’re looking to make sure that they don’t overpay anywhere on this loss. And my job is to make sure they do. - John Giordano Click To Tweet

What do you charge? How does that work?

John Giordano: Our commissions are regulated by the state insurance department. We can charge 10% for our services. And generally, that’s what we do charge is 10% for our services. There have been times where larger losses, we’ve negotiated a fee but it’s not usually something that’s a common practice because it’s not the amount of our fee that the client should be worrying about or thinking about, it’s how much more we’re going to recover for them, how much bigger that check is going to be that the insurance company writes.

Because we got involved and because we put together the loss and because we said it’s worth this, not what you’re talking about. And the dollar values are so different. So the 10% is a very small portion of the insurance claim when you look at it that way.

Why do I choose you?

John Giordano: I’m the best out there. Since 1978, I’ve done nothing but advocate for people that have had property losses. My history going back can be documented. My public service since I was 21 years old from being on the Town Council of the Town of East Haven to serving at the Connecticut General Assembly as a State Representative to being in business to marketing myself getting out and meeting so many different people and business people and construction and people that I think I bring a lot of value to an insurance claim.

There are other public adjusters out there but I don’t feel that you’re going to do any better going anywhere else if you just take the time to look at what I’ve accomplished in 39 years.

Interviewer: Let’s go through your claim book one more time. Can you just flip through that a little and maybe if there’s something that grabs your attention, you can talk a little bit about it?

John Giordano: Sure. Back in August of 1994, a gentleman by the name of Charles Farricelli had his house catch on fire. And his daughter jumped from the burning building and it was very traumatic for Charlie and for his family. And he’s a very well-known florist in the West Haven area for a long time, Farricelli's Flowers. And I got to meet Charlie and we worked really hard together on this claim and it worked out very well for him and he was able to rebuild his life with the funds that we were able to get him. And through the years, I’ve worked with Charlie and his friends on many other losses that have happened that he’s referred our firm to.

I keep bringing up the commercial because I go through this so many years the Bantam Lumber company literally suffered a very large loss and I had driven up there and I met the gentleman that owned it, his name was John Evangelisti and he hired us to tackle the claim and to get the company up and running again and that worked out very well for us and for them.

I see so many losses different apartment buildings. This is Charlie. I ended up becoming friends with so many of these people that I still keep in touch with.

 John is a great guy. He’s become a good friend. He gregariously likes to have fun and he’s just a good guy.Mr. Mike Dattilo

Interviewer: You know it’s funny you mentioned that, just as a side note, I went to meet the person that was running the Wallingford Country Club. And I guess it was a big claim there. And one thing that he said is that you would have breakfast with him. You would you know help him through the process. And he said the one thing that he was really shocked at is once that was over, you still continued to stay in touch, you still continued to have breakfast, you still continued to build a nice relationship.

John Giordano: Yes. I have with so many of these people I still have fond memories.

Interviewer: It really sounds like you like to help people.

John Giordano: Well, it is nice. I like what I do.

Interviewer: Do you want to talk about any of the ones we’re looking at now?

John Giordano: When I was in the Connecticut General Assembly, I became very good friends with Joe Lieberman. And he was in the State Senate and we used to carpool together. I ended up doing a loss for Joe and his wife at their house and then I worked on that with the Connecticut Insurance Department, their program for examination review committee to make that any professionalism in the insurance industry and our state was monitored and we all had input on it.

 Carl Ajello was the former Attorney General for the State of Connecticut and his daughter was getting married. And the day of the wedding, his house caught on fire and was completely destroyed. He contacted me and I stepped in immediately and we were able to move forward with the wedding. By me being there, staying there contacting the insurance company working with them, we were able to put Carl’s life and his family’s life back together. They had the wedding.

Please tell me some of the stories that come to mind when you take a look through the book.

John Giordano: Oh the Windham Public School system, back in 1985, they had a vandalism claim. And I met their Superintendent Thomas J. Pepi and he retained us to handle the claim for them and we were able to expedite a loss at the Windham High School and it worked out well for them. They were able to keep the classes going.

The American Legion, I remember that loss that was damaged after a bad storm. And it was a nonprofit organization, basically works on helping veterans and their families and we were able to help them immensely get their building put back together again and settle the storm damage with the out of state insurance adjusters that they sent.

Interviewer: Can you tell me about happened there? How that started?

John Giordano: That was from one of the floods that they had going back to 1993. It was a storm and they took in water damage and we were able to come in and get the mitigation people to come in and start drying out the facility and put it back for them, helped them get it so that you know coordinate it with all the different people that where all the different members that they had were able to have one voice and…

Interviewer: So John, what you’re really saying is you do help negotiate a better settlement. But it sounds like you also help people put everything together.

John Giordano: Yes, many times people are out on the street, when we get there. They have nowhere to go, they are looking at the building and it’s all damaged and the insurance company is going to send out an adjuster or builders or contractors or whatever. But they’re sending them out to look at the damage as it pertains to their insurance policy. They’re not out there looking to help people they don’t have building. I don’t care what they say and how they say it. That is not what they’re there to do.

They’re there because of the contractual obligation they have with an insurance policy, with their client and there are rights and benefits in that policy for both the insurance company and the insured. So they want to send out an adjuster, their adjuster that’s going to look out for their rights and their benefits and say to you, you don’t need any help. Don’t get an advocate for yourself. Don’t get a second opinion. Trust us. Trust us. We’re going to take care of everything. That’s not going to happen. In my experience, it just doesn’t happen. They don’t care about you.

Give me an example of how you were able to help? 

John Giordano: Well, yeah. Yes. Of course, in an emergency, you go to a hotel or a motel. But if you’re going to be out of your residence for an extended time like if you have to rebuild your residence, you certainly don’t want to live in a hotel room. And you don’t have to. They owe you what you had. And it’s not just an easy thing to do.

Well, okay we owe you a house, find one. You know, you can either wait for the people that they’re going to send out again, to locate you a place to stay that they’re going to pay for, that are working for them, that they said, here, or you can ask someone like us to come out and go and work with realtors, work with professionals in the field, make sure we can find a suitable housing for you. Work with you, take you around. Those are the things that we do as a service for our clients. And services like that aren’t paid for under the 10%. So we receive 10% of the building and the contents damage but additional living expense when you’re out of your housing, setting all of that up, those are functions that we do as part of our job for you because you’re our client.

I think if my house was damaged or I, I’d rather have a professional, after reviewing it, finding out the history of what they’ve done, the body of work, who they represent, how many people they’ve helped, I’d rather, I won’t be worrying about what I had to pay them on a commission especially since that person like myself has already said that commission will never come out of out of your claim settlement.

We’ll only increase your claim settlement. It’s never going to come out of your claim settlement. You’re never going to pay it and the insurance company knows it’s going to be there because we’re going to increase your claim settlement; you’re going to get a larger dollar value.

Interviewer: Well, it sounds like not only the dollars which are important because I need to get whole again but what I find really important is you go out of your way to help people even if it’s not making you any money. I mean you described that the commission that you make is only the home, the building and the contents. Not on finding people another place to stay.

John Giordano: Right.

Interviewer: So you legitimately are helping people. You really are.

John Giordano: There’s no question about it. And I like to think that the people that have been associated with my company, Giordano Associates, through the years, since 1978 have all been very highly qualified individuals that share that value. We really try to help. We know what you’re going through because we’ve seen it for 39 years. And I feel, I truly believe, not even feel, I truly believe that the company that I’ve started and the system that I’ve put together of handling losses for individuals has never really cost any of our clients any money.

We’ve done nothing but increase settlements, speed things along, make sure that people’s lives are put back together again and maybe that’s why after 39 years I still like doing what I do. We all need to work because we all need to make a living and we like to enjoy life. And you need money to do that. But I feel like I’ve been in as situation that I’ve been able to do that and help other people constantly help other people. I know that there are a lot of my clients out there that would attest to that also.

(up next) Insurance claim details Part 3
The devil IS in the details, especially when it comes to insurance companies and here's why