By Norman Lambe, LA Home and Business Insurance Examiner
July 26, 2015
A dangerous precedent is being followed in the insurance industry concerning the investigation of smart meter fires. When a fire associated with the malfunctioning of a smart meter is reported to the insurance company, the Claims Adjuster will inspect the damage, and attempt to determine what caused the fire. The Adjuster will then continue the program of the evaluation of the loss and payment of the claim.
While the steps outlined take place, the insurance company is also interested in determining the cause of the fire, and if it is due to someone’s negligence or manufacturer’s defect. The insurance company will begin subrogation efforts to recover the insured’s deductible, as well as the amount the company paid for the repair.
Part of the problem I face as a Claims Adjuster and other Adjusters are dealing with, is that when the fire department receives the notice of a fire, one of their first duties is to notify the local public utilities to shut off the utilities, preventing the further spread of the fire. When the local electrical utility arrives and determines that a smart meter is the issue, they have been removing the meter, and preventing the inspection of the meter by the experts the insurance company will hire to determine who is responsible for the fire.
This is a serious situation, as the utility company, upon removal of the meter is tampering with what is evidence concerning the cause of the fire and can be held criminally responsible. Most utility companies will respond to us requesting our information concerning the cost of repair. When that information is provided, the utility company will normally pay the requested amount, less an allowance for depreciation of the structure and personal property if required.
As an example of this situation of the removal of the meter(s) from the fire scene the following is taken directly from the San Diego Fire Departments Incident report regarding a fire at a small shopping center:
On February 26, 2014 a fire broke out at Friars Village, which is a shopping mall located at 10450 Friars Road in the beautiful town of San Diego, California. Information concerning this fire is contained in the San Diego Fire Department’s Incident Report Number FS14023257.
Two important entries on the report provide for us an independent account of what took place at the Friars Village Shopping Mall. The first at 18:21:42, is stated, “10 minutes into incident 2 electric boxes on fire”; the second entry occurred at 19:42:09, “2 San Diego Gas and Electric Meters are on fire.” As of this day, the meters mentioned in the report have not been made available for examination.
In June of 2015, two black outs occurred in busy Las Vegas Nevada restaurants, believed to be caused by smart meter failures. Nevada Energy has removed the meters and as of this day the meters have still not been examined, although the claims are in the process of loss evaluation and will be paid by the insurance company. However, the real issue as to why all the meters are failing is not being dealt with.
I will be exploring the meter problem further, along with the impact it has on your policy both Homeowner and Commercial.
Posted under Fair Use Rules.