Women in Subro: Nina Scotti


This Women in Subro blog series highlights powerhouse women in the industry while discussing leadership, management, and success in subrogation.  In our interview with Nina Scotti, investigator with NMS Investigations, Inc., we recognized her as a true trailblazer for women in subrogation and women everywhere. 

Nina started out as an electrical contractor working for the City Building Department and became a certified journeyman for electrical.  She was the first female the City of Pasadena had ever hired in a trade position.  As she performed many electrical assignments at the fire stations and had a construction and electrical background, the fire department recruited her.

She was the first female fire fighter for the City of Pasadena (1986).  At the time, the other females at the fire station were paramedics.  She retired out as an arson investigator, then opened her own company for investigations in 2005.  She has been operating successfully ever since.

Nina Scotti with dog Blaze

Q: Are you doing your childhood dream job? 

A: When I was about 8 years old, I saw firetrucks on the street putting a fire out.  I wondered why women weren’t firefighters.  My dad said, “girls just can’t do things like that.”  Funny that it turned out that I was the first.

Q: How do you describe subrogation to friends and family?

A: Pretend you have a coffee pot, you poured yourself a cup in the morning, left home, fire at your house, last thing you used was the coffee pot.  The investigator narrowed down the cause of the fire to the coffee pot.  The insurance carrier gets involved to pay the claim.  The investigator will take the coffee pot for inspection, and if evidence shows a failure in coffee pot, the insurance carrier will go after the manufacturer of the coffee pot (or component therein) for recovery of the claim.  Moral of the story: unplug it!

Q: Fun subro story to share?

A: I did have a cause where the cause of the fire was… a vibrator.

Q: What is the most rewarding/exciting/interesting part of your job?

A: Being able to go into a completely burned out building, following all the indicators and having the knowledge to pinpoint the origin and determine the cause of the fire.  It is also fun running into colleagues on the large loss; it’s like a reunion.

Q: How have you excelled in the industry?

A: I have excelled because I have had some good mentors and have learned from other investigators.  With every fire scene, I learned something from somebody.  You can’t learn everything from a text book.  The more fires you go to, the more you learn.  And I ask a lot of questions.

Q: What is one of your greatest professional accomplishments?

A: I wrote an article in Fire Investigator, Principles and Practice to NFPA 921 and 1033 – third edition.  The article is “Voices of Experience” Chapter 18-Failure Analysis and Analytical tools.

Q: What is one of your most memorable cases?

A: I had a career case; one you don’t come across too often. It was a large loss in a recording studio in Burbank, CA.  An explosion occurred at the studio, where roof pieces were lying in the street.  The studio owner was charged for arson and facing a civil suit.  The defense hired me and I went up against 12 other experts… and won.  My investigation helped get all the charges of arson dropped and win a $14 Million defense verdict in the civil case.

Q: Do you have any tech tips for workplace efficiency?

A: I am licensed and fly 3 drones.  Flying over a fire scene and taking photos or video is great especially for after brush fires to see the footprint. 

Q: Construction, engineering, fire investigation, even insurance and law, are typically thought of as male dominant fields.  Do you see it that way? 

A: Oh yes, absolutely male dominant fields, but it is great to see more women getting into investigations.

Q: Do you think you are perceived differently based on your gender? 

A: I will give you an example.  An attorney called my number and asked for “Mr. Scotti.”  I answered, “this is ‘Scotti.’”  He replied, “No, Mr. Scotti” and hung up.  He called awhile later and said the client was “okay” with it [my gender] and wanted to hire me.

Q: What is something you would like your male counterparts to know about working in the industry?

A: Fire scenes are not easy, but I hold my own.  It is important that the men don’t look at us like a female not capable, but a colleague that is resourceful and knowledge, and someone to share information with.  Not looked at as inferior, just equal.

Cozen O’Connor thanks Nina Scotti for this interview and for being a true leader in subrogation.  We leave you with this video clip, as Nina says she loves what she does and working in subro is such fun, “Time of my life”:

Stay tuned for the next post highlighting another prominent subro leader.

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