By B.N. Frank
Tens of millions of utility “Smart” Meters have been installed in the U.S. and worldwide so they have probably already been installed on your home and throughout your community even if you aren’t aware of it. They have been associated with so many problems including fires and explosions (see 1, 2, 3, 4). In fact, some PG&E customers in California and their insurance companies actually sued the utility because of smart meter fires.
The major issues in moving forward in dealing with defective Smart Meters and Fires which result from their malfunction are as follows:
- The fire departments investigating the fires need to have a category established in their incident reports to indicate a Smart Meter malfunction should be considered. As it stands now, the cause is identified as electrical in nature, or cause cannot be identified.
- The function of the responding utility companies needs to be changed. The fire departments which are in route to a fire scene will call the local utility company requesting they come to shut off the electricity, and gas. The utility companies will ask a matter of practice remove the Smart Meter from the loss scene and hold it safely in their vaults. The only way that an Insurance Company can get to the meter at the present time is to subpoena the meter for testing, and the subpoena cost money.
- Finally, since I have been identified as the only Insurance Industry person speaking out against the Smart Meter debacle I can say that the Insurance Industry needs a change of heart and mind. I was told verbally, face to face, that the odds are still in favor of the Insurance Company. It is still cheaper to pay the claim and subrogate against the utility company for recovery. However, as the Smart Meters age and the lithium batteries in them begin to wear out, leaking into the meter’s interior and going up in flames the balance sheet will tilt in favor of investigation.
- I can personally state that it took the company which I work for 18 months of letter writing and subpoenas to obtain the opportunity to perform destructive testing on the meter that failed and caused the fire. Even then, the settlement was sealed and the final payment to be kept secret from even me.
- Insurance companies need to understand that the investigation of a claim involves determining the cause of the loss, and if that cause can be held responsible financially for the damages. If then takes the adjuster to a failed smart meter so be it.
Respectfully, Norman Lambe, Property Claim Specialist, Precision Risk Management, Inc., For Century-National Insurance, Co. (10/2019)