Emery Kunzman, a very experienced property insurance adjuster, recently passed away. I received a number of messages about his passing. He was often a topic of conversation in our firm because he was involved in many high-value claims.

I always had a grin grow on my face at the Windstorm Insurance Conference when I ran into Emery and his partner, Jose Palacios. Jose wrote the following LinkedIn message about Emery’s passing:

It is with much sorrow that we inform you of the passing of EVP Emery Kunzman. The PIB family expresses its condolences to Emery‘s family, his wife of 36 years and two daughters.

Emery‘s contributions to our company were profound. His expertise and personable nature helped secure, pivotal partnerships with major insurers, propelling us into a league where we compete with industry giants. His ability to navigate conflict with tact and fairness earn him the respect of colleagues and adversaries alike. This was a testament to his character and unwavering principles.

To Emery, my dear friend and business partner, thank you for sharing your wisdom, humor, and warmth with all of us. May your legacy continue to inspire and guide, and may your memory forever be a blessing to those whose lives you enriched. Rest peacefully, my good friend.

His obituary noted in part:

Emery was born and raised in Miami. A true Floridian to the core. He graduated from Chaminade Madonna in 1973 and went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in Criminology from The Florida State University in 1977. He was the biggest Seminole fan you ever met.

Being a father was Emery’s greatest achievement in life. His two daughters, Kelly and Kara, his little one, were his pride and joy. Some men are born to be ‘girl dads,’ that was Emery….

For over 40 years, Emery was an Insurance Adjuster. He started his career with CJW and spent a few years working in St. Croix. He loved to tell stories about his island life. He went on to serve as Executive Vice President of Peninsula Insurance Bureau since 1995 with his business partner and friend, Jose Palacios. They worked to grow the company to be bigger than either of them ever imagined. Emery was smart, very smart, he knew his stuff, but the last decade or so he was a true personality in the industry and at PIB. He was a mentor to young people he hired and trained, he was a source of answers to those who had questions, and he was really great at taking people out to dinner and drinks. He loved to schmooze over a steak and an expensive bottle of red wine.

Emery always saw the good in the world. He was extremely optimistic and treated every single person he met with the same respect and attention. He could talk to anyone, whoever sat next to him at the bar was bound to become a friend….

Jeff Pellet sent me a message that demonstrated Emery’s very high degree of emotional intelligence and an example of the impact he had on many:

I had the joy and pleasure of working against Emery over the past 27 plus years as opposing appraisers. My very first encounter with him was a North Miami water loss. Emery approached me, stuck out his hand, and we entered into a handshake. He held onto my hand, cupped it with his other hand, and in a very respectful tone said, “I know all about you, and your crazy letters.” Then, his next words were, ‘I want to be your friend – not your enemy.’

That started a long and professional relationship. Fact was, we often got together post loss, to wash away the day’s grind.

My wife reached out to Emery and invited him to my 50th surprise birthday party held at Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale. I was amazed to see him at the table that evening. There was such a warmth to his smile. He even dressed in the classic Tommy Bahama shirt he always wore. He gave me one for my birthday. I still have it today. I’ll continue to wear in hope that we can meet up again for another toast.

Hidden professionalism is everywhere.

Property insurance claims work is hard to do at a high professional level. It takes a deep knowledge of so many fields of study, which is honed only after years of experience. One of those required skill sets is a deep emotional understanding and listening ability of others. More than his technical knowledge of adjustment, Emery was a person who had this studied gift of a high level of empathy and emotional intelligence, which endeared him to so many. Emery’s soft critical skills, like empathy, self-regulation, and social deftness, certainly were key components to his success in business relationships and with his family.

For his closest friends, I am certain you have similar stories to share, which are similar to Jeff Pellet’s remarkable story about Emery.

Emery has previously been highlighted in this blog. In the post, “After an Appraisal Award is Signed, Can One Side Unilaterally Change It?” Emery was the insurer’s appointed appraiser. The Umpire made what appeared to be a corrected award, but the court only allowed the first award to apply.

Thought For The Day

Empathy is not about being nice or agreeing with the other side. It’s about understanding them.
—Chris Voss