June 2017

In This Issue

2017 Board Members
Robbie Maples - President
Cunningham Lindsey

Marilyn Roberts - Vice President

Bill Cartwright - Treasurer
Eagle Adjustment Services

Bob Murner - Secretary

Brian Richey - Asst. Secretary/Treasury
Executive Board
Lawson Thompson - Past President
Rick Brown - York

Robbie Arnold - McLarens

Griffin Rogers - Crawford & Company
Gwendy Schulte - OneBeacon Insurance

John Southall - Historian
FM Global - retired
Joseph Hunnius- 
Financial Advisor
Matson Driscoll & Damico
President's Message
"Favorite people, favorite places, favorite memories of the past. These are the joys of a lifetime, these are the things that last."  Henry van Dyke
School is now out for the Atlanta area and for all of us Atlanta commuters and anyone traveling here for business. I'm certain you have seen a bit of reprieve in our traffic. Having our catastrophic I-85 bridge collapse repaired (which was completed in record speed) also helps in this endeavor.
With the summer season upon us, we must now balance our work lives and our family lives. Our SLA family has a wide range of members that are in different stages of "family". These range from grandparents visiting with the kids they get to spoil and give back, to young families working to create a new memory on the beach or in the mountains. Some of the younger generation are traveling back home to visit with family they have missed while others may be happy to not travel and simply enjoy a "staycation". Others are just taking an opportunity to spend time with friends.   Regardless of your stage in life, take time to cherish your friends and family. Enjoy your loved ones and create new memories - after all, that is why we work so hard!  
Our last SLA meeting we enjoyed Trey Rainwater, P.E. of ProNet Group, Inc., who in additional to sponsoring the luncheon, gave us great information on commercial HVAC units. You cannot always assume the damaged equipment must be replaced. The large units are often times repairable.
We look forward to seeing you this week at our regularly scheduled luncheon this week on Thursday, June 8th at the Northpoint Diner located in Alpharetta. Fred Ferrand, Partner at Swift Currie Attorneys at Law will be presenting "Handling The Large Commercial Fraud Case, Including Vendor Fraud." This course is approved for One Hour of Georgia CE credit.  

Kind Regards,
Robbie Maples

Quick Links

 Schedule of Events


06/08/17 - June Luncheon


07/13/17 - July Luncheon


08/10/17 - 25th Annual SLA CE Seminar

EFI old ad   
        Join us for the June Luncheon
          Thursday, June 8, 2017
           The Diner at North Point
Our speaker this month will be Frederick Ferrand, Partner at Swift Currie Attorneys at Law. The topic of his presentation is "Handling The
 Large    Commercial Fraud Case, Including Vendor Fraud."



Register Now

ha&w old ad frotier old ad
Southern Loss Association Inc.
25th Annual Property Seminar

This event is intended for the education of ADJUSTERS, CLAIMS MANAGERS, RISK MANAGERS & SLA MEMBERS ONLY, PLEASE!!!
We are pleased to offer 8 hours of Georgia Continuing Education Credit; including 3 hours of Ethics.

Registration is FREE for FULL MEMBERS! Your membership status will be verified upon registration--if you still need to pay your 2016 dues please visit www.southernloss.com to pay online. Contact us with any questions.


After our Education Seminar concludes we will have a TopGolf and Happy Hour event open for all attendees! If you've never been to TopGolf before you're in for a treat--and you don't need to be a golfer to have a great time! There is no additional registration fee to join us for some golf, fun, and a cocktail but please be sure to register as we will need a headcount for the facility. 
    Registration & Breakfast will begin at 7:30 AM
Program Begins promptly at 8:00 AM
We have a great line up of speakers to keep your attention all day.

Nick Goanos and Zack Jett - Butler Pappas - 1 hour
"Top 10 Issues in Coverage & Subrogation

Jim Beck - Georgia Underwriter's Association - 3 hours 
"Ethics Insights - Navigating the Minefield"
Doug DePhillips - JS Held - 1 hour
"Choosing the right estimating program"
Scott Dowsett - Anomali - 1 hour
"Cyber Security and the Dark Web"
Robbie Maples & Jeffrey Cornell - Cunningham Lindsey & Forensic Advisory Services - 1 hour
 "Business Interruption Tools for the Adjuster"
Dr. Dan - Young & Associates - 1 hour
"Auditing moisture mapping and equipment needs on water losses"

2015 C J Hester ad







Data Collection
Joseph Barcus, CFEI, CVFI
Applied Technical Services, Inc.

Investigations and scene examinations are important to determine the cause and identifying possible parties for subrogation. The fundamental purpose of conducting an examination of any incident scene is to collect all of the available data and document the incident scene. i.  This gathered data can be analyzed and provide supporting material for the hypothesis. The hypothesis can then be further developed and tested. And if the findings turn out positive, these results can lead to a monetary recovery.

NFPA 921 Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations 2017 edition says collecting data is "Facts about the fire incident are now collected by observation, experiment, or other direct data-gathering means".  The data collected is called Empirical Data. The definition asserts that data is based on actual measurements, observation or direct sensory experience rather than on theory. The data collected is called empirical data because it is based on observation or experience and is capable of being verified or known to be true. ii

This information is derived from one or more of the following means: interviews, review of previously conducted investigations, witness photos, security cameras, observations, alarm systems, and any other means that can supply information. This data is then analyzed, and hypotheses are then developed.

Of course, investigator error can result in inaccurate or inadequate information that can jeopardize the claim. However, another source of error can be introduced by the insurance professional (client) retaining the services of the investigator.

An instance of client induced error occurred during an investigation of a motor vehicle that had been involved in an accident. The client's vehicle was eventually transported to a tow yard where the owner of the vehicle showed up and requested to retrieve his personal belongings from the car. The attendant allowed the owner to gather his belongings without escorting him to the vehicle. While the owner was at the vehicle, the car was all of a sudden involved in a fire.

Applied Technical Services, Inc. (ATS) was contacted by the client and requested to investigate the tow yard fire. I was conducting the investigation gathering the normal and customary data which included evaluating the car, conducting witness interviews and taking photographs. During this process, I became aware of several discrepancies where the fire patterns did not match the owner's statements of how the fire had occurred at the tow yard.

The owner had told me that he first was aware of the fire when he noticed smoke emanating from the dashboard area. However, although the fire patterns showed an area of origin in the dashboard area, these patterns also indicated two additional areas of origin. One origin was within the engine compartment and another in the trunk. I continued my investigation by taking several fire debris samples and interviewing the other available witnesses at the tow yard.

During the interviews, a tow yard employee identified a security camera that captured the events leading up to the fire at the tow yard. While at the tow yard, I requested to watch the video, but unfortunately, the owner of the tow yard was the only individual with the password to gain access to the system. At that time, I had a phone conversation with the tow yard owner. He stated that upon his review of the video that it appeared the vehicle owner had intentionally set the fire. He also told me that I could meet with him the following day to personally review the footage. As I left the yard, I called the client and gave a status update of my findings and explained that I was planning to review the video footage. I was told to proceed.

However, within 30 minutes of this phone conversation I received a phone call from the client requesting that I not watch the security footage under the premise that observing this footage might bias my investigation. I considered this an unusual request because having the opportunity to view video that may have captured the inception of the fire at the tow yard would be valuable empirical data. In turn, this data can facilitate a more efficient and conclusive determination of the origin and cause of the vehicle fire. I proceeded with my investigation without my reviewing of the video.

Having examined the vehicle and interviewed available witnesses, I then obtained a Carfax report. iii Sometime shortly after a vehicle accident had occurred, the local law enforcement vehicle accident report number is posted. Fortunately, that was the case in this instance. Subsequently, I was able to purchase the accident report for $10 which ultimately provided me with the contact names and phone numbers of those that had witnessed the accident.

After interviewing these witnesses, I learned that all of them provided a uniform recollection that the client's vehicle had a fire at the time of the accident. Each witness reported seeing flames coming from the engine compartment. One witness provided photographs that showed flames involving the engine compartment.

I provided a written report of my findings to the client. In particular, I concluded that there were three areas of origin. One area was attributed to a fire caused by the accident and the other two were incendiary (intentional human act). I was told later by the client that the owner eventually confessed that he had set the fires in the dash area and trunk.

The above example illustrates the importance of taking advantage of all the data. Although the tow yard owner provided me with his recollections of the video, based on past experience a trained fire investigator will typically note details that a layperson would miss. Had I reviewed the video, this investigation could have been performed in a more efficient, less costly manner.

A properly trained fire investigator understands the importance of not introducing personal bias into the investigation. iv Any data--be it video, witness statements, photographs etc.-has the potential to bias an investigation if utilized inappropriately. As a fire investigator, I am always mindful to not let any one piece of information bias my findings.

i NFPA 921 Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations 2017, 4.4.3 Conducting the Investigation.
 ii NFPA 921 Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations 2017, Chapter 4 Basic Methodology, 4.3.3 Collect Data.
iii www.carfax.com
iv NFPA 921 Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations 2017, Chapter 4 Basic Methodology, 4.1* Nature of Fire Investigations
For more information about this topic, please contact Joseph Barcus with Applied Technical Services, Inc. at 770-423-1400 or you may write him at jbarcus@atslab.com.

This newsletter is a publication of Southern Loss Association, Inc., P.O. Box 421564, Atlanta, GA 30342. The articles written in the newsletter are in a general format and are not intended to be legal advice applicable to any specific circumstances. L egal opinions may vary when based on subtle factual differences. All rights reserved.

          Become a Member of the Southern Loss Association


Would you like to join Southern Loss Association or know someone who is interested?  We can now take your membership application right on line!


Membership is limited and subject to approval by the Board of Directors and its membership body.  Please read all the terms on the application!




BCS old ad
hsno old ad   
We thank our advertisers for their support.  If you would like to advertise with us, please contact us at southernloss@gmail.com.