Is Your Diminished Value Expert really an Expert, or just a good Salesman?
Over the years, I’ve seen multiple people who claim to be a “Diminished Value Expert” pop up and disappear. In fact, at least two of these purported experts have posed as customers or someone just pretending to want to collaborate with me, wanting me to help them “get into” doing diminished value claims. These people didn’t want to help; they wanted to make money off of something they thought was easy, and they wanted me to help them. They saw dollar signs, and they thought I could (or would) help them.
Fortunately, you can’t put nearly a quarter of a century of claims, litigation, and appraisal knowledge in their head to make them experts, no matter how bad they want to steal money from victims. When they couldn’t actually obtain my experience and knowledge without spending 23 plus years in the industry, they set out to steal my knowledge and began secretly copying my business model (I mean, some people are so lazy right?).
I kid you not, one of them told me (mind you, the only experience they had was what my informational website told them) that they will just fake it ‘til they make it, in so many words. It’s sad for me to admit, but indeed, they sell and market better than me. I seek truth and justice, not money. If you don’t believe me, ask my family. As of yet, I’m not rich (DAMNIT!), but I sleep well because I don’t make money my top priority. Many of my friends and family will tell you I’ve made stupid financial decisions. I agree. I don’t make decisions based on how much money the decision will make me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like being called stupid, but you know. . . Forrest Gump said it best, “Stupid is, as. . . “. You know the rest. I think it is stupid to trade your character for money. I have faith that the time I spend pouring my heart into this will continue to soothe my soul and pay my bills.
It’s very sad (and maddening) that accident victims and even some attorneys and insurance companies are fooled by marketing ploys (or maybe they enjoy the easy money it generates without regard to morals or ethics). Don’t get me wrong, great marketing is just that; great. But great marketing can’t have lies in it. I mean, I’m all for helping if you can, but if you can’t and only want money, don’t lie about being an expert and create disinformation and doubt as to what real experts are, you know? Damnit these guys piss me off. Experts don’t have to “sell” you. They really are experts, not salesmen or marketing specialists. I know, I know, one has to market, but not deceivingly, right?
Why I’m Writing This Blog
The “experts” that prompted this article and those that stole my time away from actual victims have now been in business for nearly two years (as of the time of this writing), and it’s solely because they mislead their potential customers with hype. They offer money back guarantees which causes the appraiser to have a financial interest in the claim. That’s not allowed for a real appraiser. Opposite of a true expert, they have never been challenged in court nor have they been vetted as an expert by somebody that actually IS an expert under the law.
These guys are the epitome of “fake it ‘til you make it”, but the problem is they will never make it, not really. They have to live with their lie. One can only fake being an expert until they meet a real expert. If you have an “expert” report from somebody you expect might be a scam artist (trust your gut), please send it to me and I will audit it for compliance with the actual appraisal standards that legally apply and help you get a refund from the crook. And, if it’s a real appraisal, then wow! I’ll probably seek that appraiser out as business partner!
If a report says it is compliant with the USPAP (UNIFORM STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL APPRAISAL PRACTICE), send it to me for verification, please! I will audit it for compliance and provide you with a report detailing the shortcomings to help you try to get your money back from the scam artist that fooled you (don’t be ashamed; attorneys, insurance companies and even Judges fall for fake experts all of the time).
The USPAP is the authority on appraisal standards in the U.S. I found this out in 1998 while researching a diminished value report from a fake expert. I exposed that very few “auto appraisers” actually used any appraisal standard, much less the formal standard approved by Congress in 1989.
Over 23 years of experience with auto claims best practices, appraisal and claims auditing, and genuinely applying real, legal, appraisal standards have astoundingly resulted in me finding VERY FEW expert appraisals that would pass a cross examination by me or any of the attorneys I work with, much less meet the actual legal standards for expert appraisals.
Need An Example?
Here’s a point in case; there is this “expert” who has been on the news, and fooled attorneys and judges into believing he is a real expert appraiser. It took a while, but eventually, he had to deal with me in an actual court case and ended up being deposed by a very diligent attorney. The attorney exposed that this expert certified himself and made up a “certification” program for “appraisers”. In fact, he admitted that he and a friend (neither of which had any experience with formal appraisal standards or litigation involving appraisals) certified themselves in a garage (and he was proud of that!). He could not intelligently answer questions about the formal appraising standards that are approved by Congress that he purported to use (his appraisal contained certifications that he abided by the rules LOL).
He even admitted that he wrote appraisals for himself and certified them that he had no interest in the property, UNDER OATH! He didn’t even know the section of the formal appraisal standards guide that applied to his purported expertise. No joke! This was in a formal deposition, and it was brutal (call me and ask for a copy of the depo, it’s public record). The claim settled after the deposition for very close to the amount that the real appraisal I produced reflected.
His program and certification are impossible to take as anything other than a joke if you have even cursory knowledge of the law regarding experts and the field of appraising value (not the same as damage “appraisers”; they are actually estimators of repair cost, not value). Truly. I have a copy of one of the “exams” he uses, and my young son could easily answer every question just based on the ridiculous answer selections. Because it is a multiple-choice test, all of the choices except the right answer are totally silly and clearly meant to ensure a passing grade. Here’s an actual example from the “test”:
#4. What instrument measures and registers the miles and tenths of miles the vehicle has been driven?
D. None of the above
No joke, that is a real question from the real test of the BOCAA (explained better a little below). Seriously, if you want a good laugh, just give me a call and I’ll share some of the other ridiculous test questions. Trust me, it would be hard to fail the BOCAA test. You can doooo it! if you want to be a fake expert appraiser, call jack of all trades, Roy Bent, and then hope I’m not on the opposing side at any trial, lol!
I want to stress that I have not altered anything or added or subtracted from the example question I presented. It is the exact question with the multiple-choice answers in the right order. Somebody that failed the BOCAA test (or even passed it, lol), would not be allowed to sweep my kitchen floor. I’m truly not sure that a smart Border Collie couldn’t pass it. It is seriously a ridiculous joke.
This “expert” makes money by marketing for diminished value on the internet and by “certifying” anybody that wants to pay him $500.00 as a full-fledged expert appraiser. His arrogance, sheer guile, and the way he revels in bullshitting and “getting over” on people is disgusting. I don’t market by hyping bull. Don’t get me wrong, I market, but I do it by providing truly relevant information, and actually knowing how to address the complicated issues that can arise in the course of a damage dispute (not to mention actually following real appraisal standards). I hope this article helps to prove that.
Back to this faker. . .
This guy is bold enough to try his luck in court, and he has unbelievably gotten away with it more than once (that train will come to the end of its tracks). He calls his association and certification the BOCAA (Bureau of Certified Auto Appraisers). Sadly, even some actual appraisers have been fooled into getting his certification. If you want to see how much of an expert the guy who is certifying these people really is, I again offer to provide you with the full transcript of the deposition that he got dragged into. It is a ridiculous, yet astounding, display of ignorance and willful deceit. His expertise is talking BS, and he’s proud of it. That’s it, point blank.
For insurance adjusters faced with a suspected fake appraisal, I’m a friend. Send the report to my office for a formal audit to expose the fraud. I’ve been a witness in court on both sides of the fence (for victims and for insurance companies).
Unfortunately, these frauds end up making some money by hyping up the idea of easy money to victims, and easy low settlements for carriers. Then they spew out the few lucky successes they’ve had, pay for good reviews, and hang their hat on the cases where they weren’t challenged. They use the few successes to lure new victims while forgetting about and ignoring the customers who have already been tricked into paying for their worthless report. They rely solely on their sales and marketing tactics to bring in new unsuspecting customers, but when the rubber meets the asphalt and the curtain is pulled back, they immediately cave-in and slink away as if nothing happened. One of them even had the nerve to ask me to take over cases that were “hard” when the carrier called them out! Sickening!
The best experts are the ones that don’t have to sell themselves. Ask around a LOT. Look for the truth. Don’t believe an internet salesperson that tells you they are an expert appraiser, not even if they claim to have a fancy certification or slick website. Ask them to do a conference call with you and me so you can evaluate their expertise and ask the right questions. I’ll bet they refuse. Look at their ACTUAL experience, education, and training (get a copy of their CV). Many of these fly-by-night experts even lie on their CV’s. These people will take your money and then tell you that you need an attorney and are on your own when the insurance company laughs at them. These scam artists will claim to have attorneys that use them and handle these cases, but mark my words, the attorneys that they claim to use are personal injury attorneys who do not actually handle the diminished value only cases. With an injury case, the attorney knows that if they tack on a fake/inflated DV claim, it can add some money to the bottom line because they can use the additional alleged DV damage to bolster the injury claim. Guess what? If you have an injury claim and an attorney, and if you qualify for DV, you’ll get some diminished value (but your injury settlement will be that much less). The insurance company sometimes throws a bit of diminished value money at these cases to get the injury settled without a suit. It’s pure economics, not because of a fake DV report. If you don’t have an injury, you’ll have a hard time finding an attorney to take on your DV claim.
If that’s the case for you and you only have a DV claim and no injury, then you’re not much of a threat to an insurance carrier. Insurance companies aren’t stupid. They know who the threats in the DV game are. They round table these claims and know which experts have good attorneys that will litigate just the property damage. There are very few real threats in the diminished value/auto appraisal arena.
What The “Experts” Will Tell You
Okay, so some people might be thinking that you can get any old report and just go to small claims court. You’d be right – and what other “experts” will tell you is that once you sue, the insurance company will “99%” of the time, settle. Don’t believe it! I’ve personally litigated 1000’s of small claims cases (as a claims recovery expert for insurance companies) and many of my customers try the pro-se small claims route. A large majority of the time, if you are pro-se (don’t have an attorney), the insurance company WILL show up and defend the claim, and they normally win. This is because they have practice arguing against these claims in court. No matter how smart I am or how much I try to teach you, you’ll either be up against an attorney or insurance company representative, and they’ll have more experience arguing these cases than you do and they know the rules of court better. The Judge probably knows them. Even with an impeccable appraisal from a real expert, it’s simply not possible to teach a person how to present the information persuasively, manage discovery, direct examine and cross examine witnesses, or understand voir dire or motions in limine, or on, and on, and on. I just can’t make a person an expert small claims litigator in the course of two or three months (which is the average time it takes for a stubborn claim to get from demand to settlement or suit).
As of the time of this article, it is still HIGHLY economical for an insurance company to just refuse to pay (or offer a super low amount) and then let you try your luck in court. So few people are successful without an attorney that it is cheaper for carriers to just go to court and try their luck than it is to pay every Joe that demands a diminished value settlement. Did you know that most insurance companies have an attorney on staff or retainer to deal with this? That means they don’t spend any attorney’s fees, they just have an attorney who is on a salary or under contract and who will happily take on the trial experience! These defense attorneys love handing people who have fake experts their asses. You can be sure attorneys that will sue (and can win) just for diminished value are few and far between, and they pick their experts carefully.
Don’t hire a salesman. Seek out a true expert.
Together we can rid the DV market of these dishonest imposters and reduce (maybe one day eliminate altogether) the rip-off’s. DV is meant to help good people when accidents happen, not leave them high and dry with a sour taste in their mouth.
If you’re one of these fake experts, you can bet the truth will catch up to you if you continue to play in my sandbox as a crook. As nice as I am, I’m no pushover. I will not tolerate a bully, a snob, or a crook. I’m gonna make sure fake experts have to continue to worry about me and the other legitimate experts, exposing them.
In the words of Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
I will not let evil triumph.
Call us at 214-227-2154 and see if you can’t tell that we are the real deal.