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Arson and Insurance Fraud

Daniel Noffsinger - Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Arson crimes are on the rise in the state of Colorado. Just last year, a body was recovered from a burned RV parked outside of a church in Pueblo. In addition to aggressively prosecuting arson cases, the state of Colorado has created a specialized unit, the Insurance Fraud Unit, which goes after people that commit arson to receive insurance claim proceeds. The following post examines arson crimes in Colorado and why insurance fraud cases are pursued so aggressively in Colorado Springs.

Arson Defined

Arson crimes are classified by the kind of property that is burned, the materials used to start the fire, and whether any lives were endangered or lost because of the intentionally set fire.

  • First Degree Arson: Knowingly setting fire to property of another without the other person’s consent and the property is occupied by people or animals. Property includes apartment buildings, house and any pet houses.
  • Second Degree Arson: Knowingly setting fire to property of another without the other person’s consent and the property is unoccupied by people or animals.
  • Third Degree Arson : Knowingly setting fire to the property with an intent to defraud or using an explosive to start the fire without the property owner’s consent. People charged with third degree arson face the additional charge of insurance fraud if the fire was set intentionally with an intent to defraud.
  • Fourth Degree Arson: Knowingly or recklessly creating a fire or explosion that places another person’s life or property in danger. If the damage caused by the fire or explosion is over $100 a felony crime is charged; if damages are under $100 a misdemeanor crime is charged. Controlled agricultural fires are the only exception to this level of crime.

Insurance Fraud Affects All Residents in Colorado

Insurance fraud affects entire communities. Insurance premiums increase for businesses and property owners when rates are driven up by fraudulent insurance claims. Fires destroy the property intentionally and can also destroy adjacent homes or commercial property. More importantly, fires cause death of people, first responders, and animals.

The Insurance Fraud Unit investigates and charges insurance fraud in arson cases when someone is charged with third degree arson and look at all arson cases very closely. To add more muscle to the Colorado insurance fraud statutes , the Colorado legislature passed provisions to make insurance fraud a felony and includes all players - the claimant, insurance agents, and insurance brokers. A third degree arson charge will most certainly include a felony insurance fraud charge, increasing the punishment at sentencing.

In domestic relations cases, insurance claims and insurance fraud can come up as well. For example, it isn’t uncommon that a decision during the marriage to commit insurance fraud is later turned into blame by one party against the other during the dissolution. If a divorce occurs during the investigation or claims process, it could have a heavy impact on the marital estate and the allocation of property.

Contact a Colorado Springs Attorney

If you or someone you know has been arrested, or is involved in a criminal investigation or proceeding regarding arson or insurance fraud, or going through a divorce with ongoing issues of insurance claims or investigation, contact Noffsinger Law, to schedule a free 45-minute consultation. Located in Colorado Springs we are open weekdays to address your inquiries. Visit us online or call (719) 368-3688 to schedule your free case evaluation.