The very first thing you should do is to notify your insurance carrier. After that, you will want to inspect the scene of the loss–the customer’s home or business.
At the scene, gather as much information as you can about the loss. You never know what information is going to be relevant in the course of the claim or litigation, and you often get only one chance to look at the scene before repairs are made, so it is best to err on the side of gathering too much information, rather than too little.
Talk to others at the scene to gather as much information as you can about what allegedly happened. Talk to neighbors and other onlookers who may have witnessed the event.
Document in writing and photographs, the manufacturer and model number of every alarm component and exactly where every component of the alarm system is located, even the ones you think will have no bearing on the loss. Also, document the condition of the equipment. For example, what sprinkler heads “popped,” and where? Was the alarm equipment damaged? Keep in mind that at the initial inspection it is oftentimes too early to tell where a claimant will go in placing blame. You never know what information will later be important, so it is best to document all the information you can.
Look for potential explanations for the alleged failure of the alarm system. There are many conditions out of your control that could have prevented the alarm system from working appropriately—a disruption or damage to electrical or telephone lines, for example.
Everyone hates to get the lawyers involved, but if it’s a large loss, you will want to involve an attorney and have the attorney accompany you to the scene inspection. Having your attorney there will help protect all the information you gather under the work-product doctrine and attorney-client privileges, which can help you tremendously in your defense. And the attorney can answer or deflect any questions posed to you about the alarm system—you should keep quiet.