Host: Trey Stone
Guest: Dan Barton
Private Insurance Adjuster, Art Jansen
Dan Barton’s Background
Dan grew up in a family who owned apartment buildings along the Hudson River so he helped take care of the properties all through high school. His mother’s family is Portugese and she married an Irish immigrant who was a doctor. Dan’s father passed away about a year ago after leading an interesting life as an academic. He was an infectious disease doctor at Baylor who studied T-cells and HIV. He never developed much wealth as an academic and did not have recurring income.
Dan Barton is one of the most prominent civil law attorneys in the country and the state of Texas as it relates to real estate and insurance challenges. Dan doesn’t own apartments that have recurrent income. As far as real estate goes, he only owns one building and some land. He has owned his own law firm since 1994. Before he went to law school he was an insurance adjuster. When he graduated from law school he practiced personal injury law for many years. After Hurricane Ike, a friend of Dan’s suggested that he go into insurance law because he understands insurance from his experience as an adjuster. Reluctantly, Dan took on commercial cases and residential cases but he ended up enjoying the work. He parlayed his practice into a first party law firm. This means, since the insurance company insures you, you’re in first party with the insurance company. For example, if you get hit by someone else’s car their insurance policy is a third party paying you. A first party lawyer helps with the rights and allegations between the insurance carrier and the insured.
After seeing friends his age retiring, Dan now understands the opportunities that recurring income provides and is looking into the right investment. Even when you take into account the growth in the stock market, his 401k isn’t enough. There’s also more risk in the stock market. Dan reflects that over the years he’s never lost money on a real estate investment.
Dan and Trey’s Relationship
Trey and Dan have worked together over the years. Dan appreciates what he’s learned from Trey about the apartment rental business. Trey remembers a particular case that Dan took over from another attorney to help Trey. The previous attorney did not have the experience, background, and subject matter expertise that Dan does. He also worked within parameters of the firm he worked for which billed the client hourly no matter what. Dan’s firm is more flexible since he owns the firm. Dan Barton is Trey’s go-to-guy when he has various types of litigation.
How Dan Helps Real Estate Investors
One example would be if a storm came in and damaged one of your properties- wind, rain, lightening, etc; the insurance company sends out an adjuster once you file your claim. Trey advises: if you feel that when you review a claim and the insurance company sees something different than you’re seeing, you should hire a private adjuster. Trey works with Art Jansen from Jansen International. From there, you can compare the estimate from the adjuster to the one that the insurance company provides from their own adjuster. If there is a discrepancy between your private adjuster’s estimate and your insurance company’s estimate and your isurance company refuses to work with you, that’s when Dan comes in to help. He would gather the information, gather expert reports, take depositions and get the insurance company to come up to your number. Trey says about 50% of the time Art Jansen can get the insurance company to agree to his estimate. The other 50% of the time he needs an attorney to assist.
Dan and Trey’s Advice About Insurance Claims
Dan suggests that you familiarize yourself with your insurance policy. He also suggests getting advice before reporting a claim because how you report it can affect the outcome.
Trey said when his apartment business started growing he hired a corporate team of experienced people in the industry because sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know and need to surround yourself with experts to help you succeed. He admits that along the way he delegated some things that he shouldn’t have and one of those things was the structure of his insurance policies. He should have gotten their advice but also stayed more involved with it himself. Trey also said that one of his mistakes in the beginning was property-wide deductibles. If the entire property falls under a single deductible, he could have a couple of buildings get destroyed on the property and still not meet the deductible. He got educated about this and found that you can actually get your deductible broken down building by building. In that instance, if some buildings are damaged and others aren’t on the same property it’s easier to meet the deductible to claim the damage.
Dan elaborates that flood insurance and associated claims are an art and you need to get it right. He recommends sitting down with your agent to really understand your policy. Insurance agents aren’t required to assess your needs and provide coverage. They are only required to provide the coverage you ask for.
Trey now has his renewal policies sent to Art Jansen, his adjuster, to review and screen it beforehand. Dan agrees that a regular “check up” can be really enlightening and he’s seen some things that he needs to adjust personally from a recent check up like this. He also points out to pay particular attention to the exclusions.
How Does Dan “Pay it Forward”
Trey often asks guests on his show about the things they are passionate about and how building wealth helps them contribute to those causes. Dan says first and foremost it’s about taking care of family. He has three children that go to well-known private schools. He also recognizes that some children don’t have the opportunity to attend schools like that so he often contributes to the schools knowing that it’s going to help other children attend. The thing that he works on the most is the National Charity League with his twin daughters.
Trey elaborates that as Christian Conservatives, Dan and he both look at it like they want to pay less taxes and encourage people to be self-reliant. They’re capitalists, they believe in private property rights, and they believe that America isn’t perfect but people come here from all over the world for a reason- for greater opportunities. With children being brainwashed or indoctrinated with socialist policies on the internet and in schools, Trey believes that people like he and Dan showing them the values of caring about their “fellow man,” caring about more than money, and money as a resource is important and it’s important to share what drives them to grow their wealth.