Nick Mahoney from expert service provider S-E-A discusses how smart home data is utilized in fire scene losses for liability defense.
Special thanks to our sponsor, AM Best Company, Best’s Insurance Professional Resources, including Qualified Member attorneys, adjusters and expert service providers.
John Czuba: Welcome to “Best’s Insurance Law Podcast,” the broadcast about timely and important legal issues affecting the insurance industry. I’m John Czuba, Managing Editor of Best’s Insurance Professional Resources.
We’re very pleased to have with us today Nick Mahoney from Qualified Member expert service provider, S-E-A. Nick has experience in the investigation of electrical power quality, electrical controls, household appliances, and consumer electronics.
He also has experience with industrial, commercial and residential electrical systems. Nick is a licensed professional engineer in multiple states, including Georgia. His professional affiliations include the International Association of Arson Investigators, the National Association of Fire Investigators, the Georgia Fire Investigator Association, the Atlanta Metro Fire Investigators Association, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Nick is also a certified fire and explosion investigator by the National Association of Fire Investigators. Nick, thank you so much for joining us this morning.
Nick Mahoney: Thanks for having me, John. I look forward to it.
John: Today’s discussion is on smart homes and fire investigations and the impact on claims. Nick, for our first
question, can you tell our audience, what are some of the basics of fire scene investigations?
Nick: The basic methodology of fire investigation is the scientific method. You may be familiar with it from school, but it essentially starts off by recognizing a need. In this case, there was a fire, identifying the problem. Someone would like us to determine the origin and cause of that fire.
In order to do so, we typically have to start collecting data, whether it’s photographs, could be digital data, witness statements. Then, we start to analyze that data, use that data together to form a hypothesis about the origin and cause of the fire.
From there, we start to test those hypotheses. Where did the fire start? What is a potential ignition source for the fire? How did the potential ignition source come in contact with a fuel? Once the data and the hypotheses match up and are testable, we select the final hypothesis and make a final determination on the origin and cause of a fire.
John: Nick, how do you identify smart home devices and data?
Nick: Many are probably familiar with smart home devices, but essentially, anything that you connect your mobile phone to or connect to via WiFi is potentially a smart home device. Some examples are thermostats, doorbells, oftentimes with cameras, could be something as large as a range, or washer, dryer.
Almost any electrical appliance in your home today could be a smart home device. As long as it’s connected to the Internet, it would be considered a smart home device.
John: Nick, how do you preserve or recover smart home data?