Have you become the victim of fire to your house of commercial property? Experience learns us that it is standard practice of insurance companies to give you a hard time over the payment of damages. We are glad to guide you in this procedure and to provide you with more information on how to act in such a situation.
After you have notified your insurance company on the fire, the firm will usually sen dan own expert. This expert is trained to find indications that can prove that you (could) have been involved in starting the fire. This unfortunately occurs quite often after the Supreme Court’s judgement in 1982, stating that an insurance companie may suffice by expressing suspicions concerning your involvement, without handing over conclusive evidence.
During the investigation at the place of the fire, the expert will first examine whether the fire was lit. Do not have high expectations on this research. A smell of fire can be enough often. In such circumstances, most experts do not even make the effort to exclude the possibility of a technical cause, like short circuit in the electrical wiring or in an installation. When the suspicion of the fire being lit has been expressed, the expert will advise you to report arson to the police.
Letter of rejection
If your insurance company thinks it has the slightest fact that can be used against you, you will receive a letter of rejection after a few weeks. Often your insurance company will also report the suspicion that your were involved in the arson tot he police. The police usually only investigates a report, if it thinks it will find conclusive evidence. Hardly ever does such a report lead to criminal prosecution.
Then you will have to try to obtain the expert’s report. However, most insurance companies are not willing to provide you with a copy of that report without a struggle. In the end, that report will usually be handed over. The insurance company tries to by time this way.
Because usually several months pass between the investigation of the insurance expert and the release of the report to you, a possible counter expertise under your commission is hindered severely. For that reason it is wise to hire a counter expert to investigate the place, immediately after the expert of the insurance company has visited you. The traces are still fresh by then. If the insurance expert has misse dan important detail, you will be covered by your own counter expert. Most insurance policies give you the right to a counter expertise at the expense of the company. Unfortunately most people do not know this and only a few people use this option.
Because insurance companies use the judgment of the Supreme Court in their own advantage and use this from the beginning of your notification, it is wise to seek legal advice at a specialised attorney as soon as possible. He or she can advise you on steps to take and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf from an early stage. The attorney can also guide you in hiring a counter expert.
Our attorneys have the necessary experience in cases like this. We are glad to help you with your problem. Our activities can consist, among other things, of:
- Advising and assisting during the investigation by the expert of the insurance company;
- Commenting on a possible concept report by the expert that was hired by your insurance company;
- Initiating, coordinating and supervising the counter expertise;
- Issuing a notice of default on your insurance company if it fails to pay your damage;
- Requesting and tracing down all information the insurance company has at its disposal;
- Advising on the possibilities the relevant policy conditions offer you;
- Advising on the damage you can claim at your insurance company;
- Negotiating together with you or on your behalve with your insurance company about the establishment of the size of the damage;
- If neccessary litigating at the court or the Appeals Court about an undesirable rejection of your claim;
- Conducting your defence towards the Public Prosecutions Department and the court, if it leads to criminal prosecution;
- Tendering a notice of complaint ex. art. 12 Sv at the Appeals Court if the Public Prosecution Department refuses to prosecute the suspected perpetrator(s) on incorrect grounds;
- Supervising issuing a complaint at the Complaint Institute of your insurance company.
Please contact us for a non-binding orienting conversation.