ing the right processes and working with
the right people.
Educate the insured
Successful subrogation starts the moment
the claim is submitted by the insured.
This is the carrier’s opportunity to communicate on matters related to safety, as
well as the importance of preserving and
securing the scene. It is human nature to
want to return things to normal by removing debris, but that can mean valuable evidence is damaged or discarded.
Work with the right
Today, restoration companies have ever-improving methods for mitigating a loss
and restoring property. What they can do
is truly amazing and time is frequently a
factor. It’s not unusual for a restoration
company to be on the scene and possibly
altering it before the investigation takes
place. Items that may look like burned
fire debris, but are in fact critical to the
investigation, could be easily discard-ed. Mitigation and clean-up should never
be initiated near the area of suspected origin prior to a fire expert’s involvement. In
nearly every instance, nothing in the area
or room of origin is salvageable.
Engage legal counsel
sooner rather than later
The sooner legal counsel is integrated into
the subrogation process, the better. Some
companies may feel it is inappropriate to
involve counsel until the initial scene investigation is complete, but unique and
exceptional circumstances can arise even
before then — including who to choose
as a fire expert. Having counsel involved
at the inception of the investigation ensures that questions can be answered and
issues resolved in a manner that doesn’t
compromise the subrogation process.
As a result, engaging staff counsel or a
retained firm to handle all potential subrogation files from start to finish can add
significant value to subrogation efforts.
Choose an experienced
The experience and ability of the fire expert are crucial to the outcome of any
investigation, especially one with sub-
Subrogation with regard to a fire claim is an extremely effective meansofrecoveringlossexpens- es. Whether it involves workmanship, product liability, product design
or failure to warn, many of the same steps
have to be initiated, documented, and
properly performed before recovery is
possible. For the sake of clarification, let’s
establish a definitive definition:
Subrogate: to put in the place of another, especially to substitute (as a second
creditor) for another with regard to a
legal right or claim.
Most claims handlers know exactly
how the subrogation process plays out
in the wake of an insurance claim. What
may be less clear is how to set up your
subrogation effort for success by follow-
the Fire Expert
By Jack Fetrow, IAAI-CFI, CFEI, CVFI