Welcome back and thanks again for joining us here at The Kronzek Firm, as we wrap up our three part series on arson in Michigan. In our previous two articles we broke down exactly what arson is, and the many different ways it can be charged as a crime in Michigan. In this last section our arson defense attorneys are going to explain the topic of arson and insurance. It’s a very complex subject, to say the least!
You’ve probably hear about arson of an insured property – in other words, burning down a building that is insured in order to get money from the insurance company. As we covered in our earlier articles, arson is a crime, whether or not you own the building that is burning. Setting a fire in a building in order to destroy it and reap the financial benefits is also illegal. Under Michigan law, “Arson of an Insured Property occurs when a person willfully or maliciously burns or explodes a dwelling, structure, or personal property with intent to defraud the insurer.”
Arson of an Insured Dwelling:
The most common scenario where this crime happens in Michigan, is when a person burns down their own home in order to collect insurance proceeds. However, the law is clear about this crime. Anyone who burns down a dwelling or residence could be charged with a felony punishable by a maximum penalty of life in prison, or any term of years. They could also be penalized with a fine of up to $20,000.00, or 3 times the value of the property, whichever is greater.
Arson of an insured Building:
Burning down any other building (that is not a home) like a business, a warehouse, or a storage facility, the maximum penalty is 20 years in prison, a fine up to $20,000.00 (or 3 times the value of the property) whichever is greater, or both.
Arson of Insured Personal Property:
For personal property, which means personally owned items other than buildings or houses, the maximum punishment is up to 10 years in prison, a fine up to $20,000.00 (or 3 times the value of the property, whichever is greater) or both. This charge is often used for the deliberate burning of vehicles, furniture, household items and even clothing.
Insurance fraud is a serious crime in Michigan! It costs all of us money by raising our insurance premiums. If you are under investigation for allegedly trying to defraud an insurance company by burning something for profit, you need to call us immediately!
What role does an insurance company’s arson investigator play in your charges?
Because there have been many instances in the past where people tried to burn down houses, cars, or other personal property in Michigan, it is now standard practice for an insurance company to have an arson investigator on staff. In fact, most insurance companies have provisions which require an insured person to fully cooperate with their investigation, which would include an investigation done by their arson investigator. (Tip: Read your insurance policy. There is lots in there you don’t know about or that you don’t understand.)
If you are being asked to cooperate with an insurance company arson investigation, you should have an attorney assist you. You should also cooperate fully after conferring with your attorney. Failure to do so can mean that your insurance claim will not get paid. It’s also important to know that in most cases, insurance company investigators will work alongside local law enforcement, and share their findings with the police or fire marshall. This means that talking to the insurance investigator might be exactly the same as talking to police, except that your Miranda rights don’t apply!
We hope this series on arson in Michigan was helpful and informative for you. Arson and the accompanying charges can be somewhat complicated, and so it’s critical, if you or a loved one are accused of deliberate burning, that you have an experienced arson attorney on your side! At The Kronzek Firm we have been defending the people of Michigan for decades and we understand exactly what’s involved. So don’t wait! Call us today at 866 766 5245. We are available 24/7 to help you achieve the best result for your case!