Fingers burned in the ashes of a house

A man telephoned me in a panic because his house had just burned down and an insurance expert was on his doorstep asking him all kinds of strange questions. The expert then produced a report suggesting on various grounds, both comprehensible and incomprehensible, that the man had set fire to his own house, that an intruder would never have been able to open the garden gate, that an unrecognizably burned leaf was evidence that the man had been growing marijuana and therefore that the insurer was not required to cover the incident.

If the electricity is switched off at the time fire breaks out, it is difficult to allege that the fire was caused by a short circuit in a non-existent marijuana growing operation. Nor does such an allegation make much sense in the context of an accusation that the owner set fire to the property deliberately, but some

insurance experts are highly creative. Of course the situation was much more complicated, but all this just shows how you can be put on the back foot if an insurance expert comes to investigate immediately after a fire with the aim of finding arguments to undermine the obligation to make a payment under the insurance.

The report prepared by our counter-expert, Krantz and Polak, showed clearly that the insurance expert’s investigation methods were seriously flawed. At my request, the counter report included extensive supporting scientific evidence. As a result, the court appointed a third expert to make a critical analysis of the two reports.

That brings us back to the basic starting position: there has been a fire, there is an insurance policy against fire and if the insurer does not want to pay out it will have to prove that it has proper justification. If the man had not gone to a lawyer immediately and the counter-expert had not been engaged, he wouldn’t have had a hope of getting any of the damage paid for.