Many people have an interest in finding out what caused a fire, including the fire department, the state fire marshal, the insurance adjuster, and the victim. But a fire can destroy the very evidence necessary to determine the cause, making fire investigation a difficult task.
Most big cities have a Fire Investigation Unit (FIU). Smaller communities may designate a person within the department to conduct fire investigations or may turn to the state fire marshal's office for assistance. Insurance companies have a stable of fire investigators at their disposal.
Investigators who rely on insurance companies for all of their work may be biased in favor of the insurer. As with most professions, the expertise of some investigators is better than others. A fire origin and cause investigation is only as good as the investigator who is doing it.
But who investigates on behalf of the insured? Usually nobody. This could be a problem if the scene is changed or altered so as to prevent anybody from conducting an investigation in the future. The insured may be stuck with the opinion of the insurance investigator and may not be able to rebut it with an expert of his own.
"NFPA 921: Guide for Fire & Explosion Investigations" is the leading authority on how to conduct a fire scene investigation. For more information on fire scene investigation and the handling of claims involving allegations of arson or fraud, read Bob Rutter's article entitled "Fire Insurance Law." Although the article was published in 1993, most of its observations still apply.
When you've lost everything in a fire, the last thing you need is a hostile insurance company investigation with the odds stacked against you. The attorneys of Rutter & Russin have extensive experience representing policyholders in these difficult situations. Contact us today for a free consultation.