How to Analyze Insurance Documents in a Fire Investigation:
VP, Fire Investigation Specialist
American Re-Insurance Co.
The Loss Notice shows the first report of the
fire to the insurance company and is usually sent in by the agent, after
being notified by the insured. It can contain important information about
when and how the insured learned of the fire. The time when the loss was
first reported to the insurance company may take on significance relative
to the other activities of the insured on that day. It may contain information
from the insured which contradicts his later testimony in a recorded statement
or Examination Under Oath.
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1. The reported date and time of
the loss are critical. They should be verified as accurate. If there is
a discrepancy, it should be determined why the discrepancy exists. You may
also analyze the date and time in the context of your known timeline of
events to determine if the notifications was unusually quick, slow, or otherwise
2. The description of the loss
and the damage estimated should be consistent with the information known
at the time the loss was reported. Also, the amount of damages initially
reported may indicate the insured is over-stating the claim.
3. Other insurance may create a
financial motive. Undisclosed other insurance may indicate a fraudulent
scheme. The remarks may provide other information about the circumstances
of the loss or the insured's discovery of the loss.
4. The loss is usually reported
by the insured. This establishes the information as a statement of the insured
which is generally admissible evidence at trial for all of the information
reported about the loss. A loss reported by someone other than the insured
should be investigated and explained.
5. The person receiving the loss
report must be established and confirmed to make the information reliable
and admissible. It is often a clerical or secretarial person in the office.
6. The loss notice is seldom signed
by the insured. If it is, it confirms the authenticity ad accuracy of the
Reprinted with permission from the author.