Good fire investigators will do their best to determine the cause and origin (C&O) of a claim. However, there has been a disturbing increase in the number of fires where the investigator is listing the cause as “undetermined.” This means that insurance companies may be missing out on opportunities to pursue subrogation against third parties whose product or services may have been faulty.

GE Insurance Solutions has noted this worrying trend as a result of reviews and audits it has conducted for ceding company customers — in order to help them investigate and handle property claims. Ceding companies are spending thousands of dollars on C&O investigations only to find that the investigator has listed “cause undetermined” on the back page of the report. The typical expense for fire investigation costs between $750 to $3,500, and in some instances even higher. As a result, a verdict of “cause undetermined” should only be used when all possible avenues have been exhausted.

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