Getting to the bottom of a fire is difficult. Unfortunately, due to underfunding and understaffing, investigations, like those related to arson, are often not given the full attention they deserve. For someone who lost property or life, or an insurer suspecting foul play, the lack of a thorough investigation is a real problem.
Fortunately, a professional arson or fire loss investigation by a trained investigator can find the evidence necessary for legal action, to get compensation, or to uncover fraud.
What are Arson and Fire Loss Investigations?
The purpose of any fire-related investigation is to identify the causes of the fire, and to determine who is at fault regardless of whether the fire was intentional or accidentally caused by faulty materials, poor workmanship, negligence, or natural causes.
It’s important to note that arson differs from other fires in that the fire is intentionally set, rather than done so through error or negligence. Arson is defined as “the willful or malicious burning of property (such as a building) especially with criminal or fraudulent intent”, and carries different charges as a result.
Regardless of whether a fire is accidental or intentionally set, the goal of a fire loss investigation is to collect and analyze all available evidence, resulting in clear-cut conclusions about cause and liability.
Who initiates an Arson or Fire Loss Investigation?
Arson and fire loss investigations are typically sought by:
- Property owners or others who have suffered physical injury and/or property damage due to a fire. Clients in this group are usually interested in proving arson or negligence, identifying those persons responsible, and seeking evidence to prove an insurance claim.
- Insurance companies interested in denying or lowering the amount of a fire insurance claim. Insurers lose billions of dollars annually to fraudulent claims, providing plenty of incentive to prove arson or negligence by the owner, if possible.
- Arson suspects – or their families or friends – seeking proof their innocence.
Starting an Arson and Fire Loss Investigation
Starting an investigation with Trustify is fast and simple. Every case is assigned a dedicated investigator (or team of investigators), along with a case manager to ensure each client gets the most of their case. Every Trustify arson or fire loss investigation consists of four basic steps:
1. Request a Consultation: Submit your case online or by phone to schedule your consultation. We'll ask for the details we need to get your case matched with an investigator and provide cost estimates.
2. Consult With a Private Investigator: A licensed private investigator will contact you to talk to you about the purpose and goals of the investigation, and to collect any relevant information about your case. You’ll additionally be asked to answer a number of important questions, including:
- What is your relationship to the subject property?
- Was anyone physically injured?
- Do you know the cause of the fire or who might be responsible?
- Do you know of any witnesses of the fire?
- Do you suspect that the fire was intentionally set? If so, what evidence do you have to support your suspicions?
- Were firefighters or police called to the scene? If so, do you have a copy of the incident reports?
- Has an insurance claim been filed?
3. Investigation in Progress: Following approval, your investigator will begin the arson or fire loss investigation. Tactics they might use include:
- Visits to the scene of the fire to examine the remains and gather evidence to determine fire’s point of origin and source, as well as to help identify those persons, if any, at fault.
- Testing and analysis of materials gathered from the fire scene through the use of state-of-the-art processes and equipment.
- Review of all reports, statements and other documents related to the fire and its investigation.
- Interviews with all parties and witnesses.
4. Case Updates and Final Report: Your investigator will keep you informed of all important developments throughout the course of the investigation, and provide you with a final report summarizing all findings once the investigation is concluded. In addition, your private investigator may be available to testify in court if necessary and agreed upon at the beginning of the investigation.
What Investigators Will Not Do
Investigators will adhere to the law and all professional ethical standards during all stages of the investigation. Investigators will not attempt to access any legally restricted records or data, or trespass onto private property without permission.