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Arson Reporting - The Immunity Law

NCJ Number
J Molinaro; T W Moon; H Palmer; T R Pressler; D Robinson; C L Roush; R S Ryan; M S Shropshire; S Silva; T L Tyler
Date Published
11 pages
This paper discusses the key elements of the model Arson Reporting-Immunity Law and uses the State of Washington's Arson Reporting Immunity Act as an example.
Currently, 47 States have enacted arson reporting laws, but not all of these laws contain all the elements of Model Arson Reporting-Immunity Law, which was drafted by the Alliance of American Insurers and supported by the National Association of Independent Insurers and other members of the Insurance Committee for Arson Control. Under the model law, insurance companies are required to release all information concerning a policyholder involved in a fire loss (history of premium payment, previous claims, and investigatory files) and to notify authorized agencies of suspicious fire losses. A two-page chart was developed by the All Industry Research Advisory Council to aid in tracking the status of arson reporting immunity legislation. Washington's Arson Reporting Immunity Act illustrates key elements of the model law and descriptive sections of the chart. The law requires that agencies may request information from insurers, that insurers must notify the State Fire Marshall of suspicious fires, that agencies must testify in court if requested, and that agencies may share information. The rapid enactment of arson reporting laws throughout the United States was prompted by the insurance industry's fear of legal action instituted by the insured for sharing or releasing information. The possibility of a libel suit against the insurance company was predicated on the provisions of Federal and State privacy legislation. Passage of arson reporting laws has, for the most part, eliminated this fear and has resulted in better cooperation between governmental and insurance agencies. The chart and 17 footnotes are provided.


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