Meet the Adjuster: Mike Garofalo

Garofalo Family | Professional Loss Adjusters

This is Part 2 of our Meet the Public Adjuster series, featuring members of the Professional Loss Adjusters team. We hope you enjoy getting to know our Adjusters. We feel lucky to have team members who care deeply about the well-being of our clients.

You started as an adjuster for an insurance company and then you moved on to work for a remediation organization. What made you decide to jump to the public adjusting side of the business? 

Part of the reason why being a Public Adjuster made sense to me is because I’ve always had a deep belief in service and a commitment to try to help people to the best of my ability. I noticed a growing industry-wide trend of insurance companies trying to “desk adjust” claims, meaning that office adjusters were making decisions about what their field adjusters could and could not authorize without ever having seen the properties in question, leaving the field adjuster unable to fully help the homeowners and business owners recover from their losses. 

Do you feel comfortable elaborating on some of your service work? 

It was instilled in me since I was young to help others who need it, whether it’s donating time, money, whatever we can do to help. In high school I did hundreds of hours of community service over and above the required amount. As I got older, graduated college, got a job, got married, and started my own family, the desire to help people has only grown.  This is a common value my wife, who works in the medical field, and I share and instill in our daughters. When we moved back to Rockland, my home town, I became one of the board of directors of a group whose mission was to create safe play spaces for kids in our town. One of the end results was that we were able to get a new $200,000 playground built. After that experience, I wanted to become even more involved in our town, so I ran for and was elected to the school committee. In addition, I still look for additional opportunities to give back to the community and help wherever I can.

What would you say your strengths are as an adjuster? 

I understand the construction aspects of a building. I am a Haag Certified Roof Inspector and I am also certified in water remediation and mitigation. I’m proficient at reading and understanding policies. I truly love the claims process—I thoroughly enjoy working on insurance claims! I’m constantly learning new things; I really love that aspect of the job. I’m a tech geek, so I stay up to date on all the latest technology used in our field to assess building damage, to estimate repair costs and to process claims.

Also, I’m a rare breed of Adjuster in that I’ve worked in this industry on all three sides of the claim: as an insurance company adjuster, as a project manager and business development manager for a mitigation firm, and now as a Public Adjuster. I think this unique perspective really helps my clients.

What was your most memorable claim as a public adjuster?

Two claims stand out. The first was an ice dam claim from the winter of 2015. Unfortunately, we did not get involved until 20 months after the loss occurred, which really put us under an extreme disadvantage as the state statute of limits would run out at the 24-month mark. To make things more complicated, this house was almost 200 years old, which meant there were significant code, insulation and electrical updates required to make the property whole.

Because we were called in so late, we first needed to negotiate an extension on the claim’s statute of limitations, so the homeowner would have adequate time to complete the necessary work. This was not an easy process, but we prevailed. We then got a local, independent company adjuster assigned to the claim which had been previously handled by an out-of-state adjuster brought in by the insurance company to help adjust the vast number of ice dam claims that year. We worked with both the insurance company’s local adjuster and their building expert, as well as the client’s contractor to hammer out a reasonable cost to repair the property. The family had to move out for the eight months it took to complete the work.

We were able to extend the deadline for the client and increase the insurance company’s settlement offered from $6,000 to $265,000. The homeowner recovered all the monies they were entitled to on their property, including the code upgrades, and were able to make the necessary repairs so they could return to the quiet enjoyment of their home.

The second claim that is memorable to me was a water damage claim which was denied by the insurance company. There was extensive flooding to the client’s indoor basketball court, gym, theater room, hallway and pool table room. The insurance company’s denial was based on the assessment of an outside engineering expert hired to find the source of the water break. Being unable to find the source, the engineer assumed that the water came from the ground. Since ground water is excluded under this and virtually every other homeowners’ policy, the insurance company denied the claim.

However, two things stood out for us: the homeowner said the water was warm not cold, and the ground was dry, so there was really no indication of the source of any groundwater.

We asked for a new engineer to be assigned by the insurance company’s adjuster. He agreed.  While waiting for the engineer to arrive for the appointment, I used my water mitigation background to follow the water stain patterns, eventually tracing the cause back to an overflowing condensate pump. When the engineer arrived, I showed him the problem and he agreed that was the source of the flooding. The denial was reversed, and the client received $180,000.

What do you wish potential clients would do when they notice an issue? 

They should call me right away so that we can immediately get working on their claim. If they don’t call me as soon as they notice a problem, then the next best thing they can do is to document everything that they can, and don’t throw any damaged property out. There’s no substitution for documentation and good evidence.

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Patrice Green

Patrice is a cum laude graduate of Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management and a concentration in English. She brings more than 25 years of professional experience within the high tech, manufacturing, real estate, sales, marketing, and healthcare industries. She is adept in all aspects of project management, which makes her an ideal office manager.

In addition, Patrice is a holistic practitioner and Reiki Master. A regular blog contributor at www.herbstalk.org, Patrice is also a volunteer at Wolf Hollow in Ipswich, Massachusetts, an educational sanctuary dedicated to the preservation of the wolf in the wild through education and exposure.