What Can You Learn From Pawn Stars?

Last night in a moment of downtime, I caught an episode of Pawn Stars and realized how what happens on that show is relevant to negotiating your Hurricane Ida damage claim. How so, you ask?

A little background first – the premise of the show is that people bring items into a pawn shop that they want to get something for and that the pawn shop may want to buy. The objective for the pawnshop is to get the lowest price and the objective for the seller is to get the highest price.

The same thing is true with your insurance adjuster. The claims adjuster is trying to get you to agree to their assessment of your hurricane damages and sign on the settlement offer on the dotted line so that they can move on to the next claim.

Here are three negotiating lessons that you can learn from Pawn Stars:

#1 – Know What You Have Before You Agree To Accept The Offer

Many of the people coming in to sell their items to the pawnshop have no real idea about the value of the item. Some do not even know what they really have. Sure, they may know what they spent or have done some preliminary research on its value, but they usually do not know with confidence what the value is.

How can you negotiate the sale of any item (or in your case, the amount of your damages) without knowing the specifics? Do you really know how much damage your property sustained? Do you know with relative certainty how much it will cost to repair that damage or replace those contents? Why would you agree to accept the insurance company’s damage offer without complete information?

Know this, the pawn store knows what it is buying, knows what it can sell it for, and knows the most it can buy it for to still make a profit. If it does not, or cannot find out, it will not buy. The pawnshop knows these things from experience. It buys and sells all day, every day. The seller usually sells one item; sometimes, the seller may be more experienced. However, chances are the seller does not sell as much as the pawn store.

Your homeowner's insurance adjuster is the same – they adjust damages for a living; all day, every day. They negotiate damages, they calculate depreciation, they know what people will accept as reasonable without question. Sure, you may have had to file a claim one or two times before – possibly total losses. The typical adjuster handles at one time more insurance coverage claims than most people make in their lifetimes.

You need help to properly and fully analyze your Hurricane Ida damages. Some damage to your home remains hidden or not easily identifiable, especially if you are not specifically looking for it. How would you know what to look for or where to direct your contractor? Some damages that you have may stay hidden for a while, and when identified, it may be too late to make your claim. You need to know as much as possible about the extent of your property damage before you accept the insurance company’s offer and give up rights to contest.

#2 – If In Doubt, Get Help – And Get The Right Help

Sometimes, despite its experience, the pawnshop does not have enough knowledge to evaluate an item. When that occurs, the pawnshop will call in experts for an opinion on the authenticity of the item (i.e., is it real?) and the value of the item, prior to making an offer. Your adjuster will do the same. You should get help as well!

And here is another interesting part – the pawnshop always calls in the same experts. Experts they have a relationship with and have worked with in the past. This makes sense because they have to trust the opinion. But what is wrong with that situation?

Imagine this conversation (which takes place out of your hearing) – “Yeah, Joe. This is Mike down at the store. I have another guy in here trying to sell a thingamajig. It looks interesting, but I have some doubts about it. He wants $1,500. I'm thinking more like $250. Can you come down and give us an opinion? Thanks. See you in a bit.”

Now Joe is going to come down to the store and evaluate the thingamajig. He agrees it is interesting but points out a few things wrong with it. Joe says it has value, and the market for the item is about $500 (what is unsaid is that the range is $500 – $1,000). After Joe leaves, Mike and the seller agree on a price of $300 (much closer to what Mike wanted to pay).

The same thing can happen with your insurance adjuster. You say that your entire roof needs to be replaced. The adjuster says only one section. The adjuster calls his expert – “Joe, I have a roof issue here.  The claimant says the entire thing needs to be replaced. I do not think so. Can you come to give me an opinion? Thanks.” Who do you think the adjuster’s expert will agree with most of the time? (Hint: Likely the person/company who is giving them regular, repeat business….)

The adjuster will have an arsenal of experts s/he is used to working with to help evaluate your damages. The experts can help the adjuster evaluate the cost of the damages and whether the damages actually exist or were caused by the hurricane.

You should get help to properly evaluate your damages as well. An experienced hurricane damages attorney can help you like the adjuster’s experts help the adjuster.

#3 – Personality Helps A Lot

From time to time, a person will enter the pawnshop and just be unreasonable.  That person does not get far with the staff and usually leaves unsatisfied. And then you have those people with a bubbly personality or a great story, who are able to eke out a few dollars more than the pawnshop wanted to spend on the item.

On more than one occasion, I have had adjusters tell me that based on their experience with the claimant, they would not be willing to negotiate any further because the claimant was rude, hostile, or insulting to the adjuster.

I know in the heat of the moment, emotions are sometimes hard to control. If you can help it, you do not want to make yourself that person an adjuster refuses to deal with anymore.

If you need help with the insurance claims process, give our office a call.

We know what you are going through because we are going through it too.

We were here before the storm, and we will be here long after. We will get through this together.

Contact Your Hurricane Ida Damage Attorney Now – Call (985) 441-3448.

Loyd J. Bourgeois
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Nationally recognized attorney dedicated to fighting life's legal battles with compassion and care
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