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Specialized training designed to fight arson, insurance fraud

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Investigators are receiving specialized training to continue fighting arson and insurance fraud in Central Indiana.

The two-day seminar for asron invetigators and inusrance agents got underway Tuesday.

The event was organized by the National Society of Professional Insurance Investigators (Indiana Chapter), the International Association of Arson Investigators (Indiana Chapter), and the International Association of Special Investigation Units.

Tuesday, instructors set up various live burn scenarios. They created two identical rooms. One room served as the accidental fire, while the other room served as the arson fire. Two cars were also set on fire in the same manner. The recorded scenarios will serve as education and training for investigators.

Wednesday, fire investigators, attorneys and insurance agents will walk through the damage for the first time. They will discuss their thoughts and theories. They will then view the video and discuss it. The goal is to determine which car and room signified an accidental case and which car and room signified an arson investigation.

“I would love to see us get to a point, in this state and nationwide, where we all go to the same fire scene and we see things and we are all in agreement with what happened,” Mike Vergon said.

Vergon is the owner and operator of Vergon and Associates Fire Investigation. He is a retired ATF special agent, as well as a certified fire investigator. Vergon said these type of investigations take time and piece of information and evidence is important. He said, often times, a number of people are interviewed.

“It’s very important (that) time is taken in an investigation, there’s no rush to judgment,” Vergon said.

The instructors and organizers hope this seminar will feel as much as a real life scenario as possible.

“I want them to understand a little bit of the challenges that we have as fire investigators that we run up against every day,” Jack Fetrow said, general manager of Fire Investigations at Donan.

Jeff Ferrand, board member of the National Society of Professional Insurance Investigators, said these cases can be costly and impact everyone.

“Arson/insurance fraud costs a lot of money to the community. Their insurance rates are all affected by insurance fraud and including arson,” Ferrand said.