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appropriate fee for fire reports

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  • appropriate fee for fire reports

    We have one insurance company that always requests a fire report anytime they have a claim in our district. In their request it states if there are any fees involved with this to forward them on with the report. My Chief wants to charge $25 for this. Is that too high? does anyone else charge for this? How much do you charge?

  • #2
    In police work if you go to our county sheriff office in NY we would give you a copy of an accident report for free ... insurance companies have to pay $25 ... so they were telling customers to go get a copy for them ... lame .... for insurance co 25 is cool but i would want to charge that much to individuals. They already pay thru taxes.

    Comment


    • #3
      That depends on the laws within your state. Some open records laws state you can only charge what it actually costs to make the copy, including time to search files, ink, paper, etc.

      Comment


      • #4
        I've never had an insurance company ask me directly for a fire report, it's always the homeowner requesting it (because the insurance company told them they needed to get one). We don't charge for it, I figure that the homeowner is going through enough crap right about then, they're at least entitled to a copy of the fire report.

        Now if they "lost" it or already gave the copy to the insurance company without thinking to make some copies for themselves first and they come around asking for another one, I could see charging a small fee for additional copies. But I don't recall that ever happening.
        Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
        Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
        Paincourtville, LA

        "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
        — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Catch22 View Post
          That depends on the laws within your state. Some open records laws state you can only charge what it actually costs to make the copy, including time to search files, ink, paper, etc.
          BINGO!! In Pennsylvania, fire reports come under the open records laws, and I have to provide them for anyone who requests them through a written records request document. I am only allowed to charge them "reasonable costs" for my time of searching through the records to find the one they need, and then reproduction costs. Since my files are pretty organized, it only takes me a few minutes to find the file. Copied at .25 per page, and if there are photos, whatever the lab charges to make new prints. If there is a disc of digital images, the cost is $5.00 per disc.
          "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

          Comment


          • #6
            Years ago, my municipal volunteer Dept accepted the responsibility to protect unincorporated areas outside the city limits. There was no taxbase there to support fire suppression needs, and when presented the option to vote on implementing a property tax to fund fire suppression, they voted against it.

            The city didn't want to made out to be the bad guy by halting fire suppression service to those areas, so they implemented a rule anyone living in the unincorporated areas had to pay $200 for a copy of a fire report.
            The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened. --Norman Mattoon Thomas, 6 time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America

            Comment


            • #7
              I agree that the first place you should look are the prevailing legal statutes for this area.

              But let me ask you a couple of questions (remember, I work for an insurance co.).

              1. When you compile your reasonable cost for the report, isn't it logical toinclude the time taken to prepare the report?

              2. You guys who already provide reports to ins. cos....Did any of them ever complain about the fee you were charging?

              3. When was the last time the insurance co. provided youwith a service for free?

              To me, a reasonable fee for a fire report would be $50. You should absolutely recoup your costs.

              Caution...if your official policy is to provide reports for free to one group and not to another, that is a slippery slope.

              $200 is ridiculous. In NJ, it would be considered by the courts to be an attempt to circumvent the Open Public Records Act.

              Teaching moment: Write your FD reports EVERY TIME like they will be used in a United States Supreme Court Case. I'm not talking about loading up your reports with useless detail. I am talking about a professionally prepared and presented product.
              PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
                $200 is ridiculous.
                Opinions are like body parts. Most everyone has them.

                When you cannot be paid $20,000 by the insurance company for lack of a fire report, $200 seems insignificant, especially when the rural residents were given Fire Protection Services from a Dept that they didn't pay to support.

                Residents living in the city limits were provided Fire Reports free of charge. In retrospect, it may have violated NC public records laws, but the citizens were given another chance to vote, and the tax district issue passed, so the $200 fee has gone bye-bye.
                The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened. --Norman Mattoon Thomas, 6 time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by txgp17 View Post
                  Opinions are like body parts. Most everyone has them.

                  When you cannot be paid $20,000 by the insurance company for lack of a fire report, $200 seems insignificant, especially when the rural residents were given Fire Protection Services from a Dept that they didn't pay to support.

                  Residents living in the city limits were provided Fire Reports free of charge. In retrospect, it may have violated NC public records laws, but the citizens were given another chance to vote, and the tax district issue passed, so the $200 fee has gone bye-bye.
                  I work for an insurance company. HEre some FACTS, not opinions.

                  1. There is no insurance law in this country that would allow an insurance company to deny a claim because the insured could not produce a fire report. None.

                  2. Insurance companies are required by law in every state to conduct an independent investigation of the loss in order to determine the facts of the case. Part of that investigation is contacting the public agencies involved and obtaining their reports. This requirement is one of the reasons I get paid a good amount of money to conduct fire investigations.

                  3. The insurance policy is a legally binding business contract. It spells out what the insurance company's responsibilities are and what the insured's responsibilities are. There is a seperate section of the policy that clearly explains why the insurance can deny your claim. They include material misrepresentation, non-cooperation, fraud and deceit, etc.

                  4. If the insurance company is going to deny the claim, it is a legal process. The insured must be notified in a legally-defined fashion, with wording citing what section of the policy they violated and an explanation of how they violated it. There is an appeal process. The insured also has thr right to sue the insurance company if the appeals process is not succesful.

                  5. If aninsurance company is found to have denied a claim for a non-valid reason, they can be found to have acted in bad faith. If a court finds they acted in bad faith, they are subject to a penalty of triple damages plus legal fees. Therefore, insurance companies invest alot of time and resources into being certain that their denials are on solid ground.

                  6. Denying an insured's claim because theydid not send in a fire report would be a blatant case of bad faith. An insured canonly be held responsibile for producing documents and records that are under their direct custody and control. Fire reports do not fall under that category.

                  7. Your story is BS and you know nothing about insurance.

                  8. A "reasonable" fee for a fire report is one that takes into considerationt he time, money and resources to complete that report (not the time spent conducting the activity that is the subject of the report). No insaurance company is going to balk at paying a reasonable fee for a fire report ever.

                  9. $200, in that light, is a ridicuous amount of money to charge.
                  PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
                    I work for an insurance company. HEre some FACTS, not opinions.

                    1. There is no insurance law in this country that would allow an insurance company to deny a claim because the insured could not produce a fire report. None.
                    That didn't stop people from paying the $200 fee.
                    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
                    2. Insurance companies are required by law in every state to conduct an independent investigation of the loss in order to determine the facts of the case. Part of that investigation is contacting the public agencies involved and obtaining their reports. This requirement is one of the reasons I get paid a good amount of money to conduct fire investigations.
                    That didn't stop people from paying $200 either. And you think passing a law makes it so? Automotive liability insurance is required on every motor vehicle operating on our Nation's roads, but despite that, the Insurance Research Council reports that about 1 in 6 drivers has none. Insurance companies frequently cut corners on the investigation.
                    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
                    3. The insurance policy is a legally binding business contract. It spells out what the insurance company's responsibilities are and what the insured's responsibilities are. There is a seperate section of the policy that clearly explains why the insurance can deny your claim. They include material misrepresentation, non-cooperation, fraud and deceit, etc.
                    That didn't stop people from paying $200 either.
                    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
                    4. If the insurance company is going to deny the claim, it is a legal process. The insured must be notified in a legally-defined fashion, with wording citing what section of the policy they violated and an explanation of how they violated it. There is an appeal process. The insured also has thr right to sue the insurance company if the appeals process is not succesful.
                    That didn't stop people from paying $200 either.
                    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
                    5. If an insurance company is found to have denied a claim for a non-valid reason, they can be found to have acted in bad faith. If a court finds they acted in bad faith, they are subject to a penalty of triple damages plus legal fees. Therefore, insurance companies invest a lot of time and resources into being certain that their denials are on solid ground.
                    That didn't stop people from paying $200 either.
                    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
                    6. Denying an insured's claim because they did not send in a fire report would be a blatant case of bad faith. An insured can only be held responsibile for producing documents and records that are under their direct custody and control. Fire reports do not fall under that category.
                    Funny, that didn't stop people from paying $200 either.
                    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
                    7. Your story is BS and you know nothing about insurance.
                    It's absolutely true George, despite how much of an expert you believe yourself to be, or how much of a "redneck hoople" or "troll" you believe me to be. You cannot attest to something that happened in a place that you've never been. And by the way, I didn't claim to know much about insurance, but at least I can spell it. And despite what any law requires, the insurance companies want you to believe that they require a "report" to substantiate the insurance claim. Anyone who has filed an insurance claim knows this. They did so when my truck was broken into last year, and over $1,500 of goodies was lifted.
                    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
                    8. A "reasonable" fee for a fire report is one that takes into consideration the time, money and resources to complete that report (not the time spent conducting the activity that is the subject of the report). No insaurance company is going to balk at paying a reasonable fee for a fire report ever.
                    The insurance companies weren't paying the fee, those making an insurance claim were.
                    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
                    9. $200, in that light, is a ridicuous amount of money to charge.
                    And that's your opinion. I didn't endorse, denounce, or deny the existence of the practice. I just stated what the practice was, and the circumstances that let to it. The practice began more than 25 years ago, and has been discontinued for at least 10. But you sit back with your omnipotent key board and the deny the existence of practices that you know nothing about.
                    The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened. --Norman Mattoon Thomas, 6 time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      So let's summarize...

                      1. You don't deny anything I wrote is true.

                      2. What you stated about insurance companies denying claims because the people didn't get a FD report is untrue

                      3. Extorting $200 from people who required your services is OK because they paid it.

                      4. You know nothing about insurance.

                      And despite what any law requires, the insurance companies want you to believe that they require a "report" to substantiate the insurance claim. Anyone who has filed an insurance claim knows this.
                      Of course they require a report. They want to make sure the incident was reported to the police. That does not mean they are legally permitted to deny your claim if you can't provide it. Every insurance co. subscribes to at least on service (like Metro Reporting) that specializes in record acquisition.

                      Insurance companies frequently cut corners on the investigation.
                      Really? Your source for this gem would be?????

                      But you sit back with your omnipotent key board and the deny the existence of practices that you know nothing about.
                      I didn't deny that some FD looking to take advantage of a citizen's unfortunate circumstances actually occurred. I was denying your story about insurance companies denying claims because a person couldn't provide a report. Then I provided facts to back it up. Trust me, tex, I have forgotten more about insurance than you would ever hope to know.
                      PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have 2 requests from insurance companies sitting here right now. 1 included a $5 bill, the other a $3 check. They will both get copies of the report.

                        Let me see, I am volunteer, so my pay rate is $0. As a Chief, I get a bonus of 15% on top of that. It will take me 5 minutes to print 2 copies of the report, but would bill a total of 30 mins time as a minimum. So, 30 mins * ($0 * 1.15) = $0 so that would be the cost involved.

                        Plus, each insurance company enclosed a self addressed, postage marked, envelope.


                        Life is good.
                        "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          $200.00 for a copy of the fire report? Not only is this unheard of, but what does this say about the public image of this practice? As others have stated, check your state stats on open records and the fees that can be LEGALLY charged.

                          By the way txgp17, up until last week, Wisconsin was one of a handful of states that did not require any insurance of any type on an automobile unless it was financed.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Open Public Records

                            I would encourage each department to research the "Sunshine Laws" Statute that is for your particular state.

                            Since fire departments are governmental entities (non-profits providing fire protection are deemed carrying out a public service) their records (financial, etc.) are usually Open Public Records.

                            Most Sunshine Statutes list particular instances where records do not have to be revealed (medical records, cause of fire that is under investigation, etc.).

                            Unless you are exempted, your records are OPEN PUBLIC RECORDS. If a fire report is requested, the Sunshine Statute that pertains to your state might allow you to charge for producing the record to the requestor (postage, copying costs, etc.)

                            While I am not a lawyer, most likely your records (except for certain exemptions) must be produced when requested.

                            I know of some fire dept's that will not (illegal!) reveal their financial records. When they want me to donate to their organization, I say no. No open records, no donation!

                            It is not the right thing to $oak anyone for a copy of a fire report. It may be illegal to overcharge them. Do the right thing and produce the record, as required by law.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by FIRE117 View Post
                              I would encourage each department to research the "Sunshine Laws" Statute that is for your particular state.

                              Since fire departments are governmental entities (non-profits providing fire protection are deemed carrying out a public service) their records (financial, etc.) are usually Open Public Records.

                              Most Sunshine Statutes list particular instances where records do not have to be revealed (medical records, cause of fire that is under investigation, etc.).

                              Unless you are exempted, your records are OPEN PUBLIC RECORDS. If a fire report is requested, the Sunshine Statute that pertains to your state might allow you to charge for producing the record to the requestor (postage, copying costs, etc.)

                              While I am not a lawyer, most likely your records (except for certain exemptions) must be produced when requested.

                              I know of some fire dept's that will not (illegal!) reveal their financial records. When they want me to donate to their organization, I say no. No open records, no donation!

                              It is not the right thing to $oak anyone for a copy of a fire report. It may be illegal to overcharge them. Do the right thing and produce the record, as required by law.
                              There were some urban dictatorships in NJ that were preventing access to public records by stretching the boundaries of the exemptions and charging exhorbitant fees.

                              The NJ Legislature responded by taking away most of the exemptions and limiting what can be charged.

                              $200 would NEVER fly in NJ for a fire report.
                              PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

                              Comment

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