The Importance of Examinations Under Oath

I had the pleasure of discussing Examinations Under Oath with a group of public adjusters at Merlin Law Group’s Los Angeles Fall Seminar on November 14, 2013.

An insurer requests an Examination Under Oath to obtain the information necessary to evaluate and process the policyholder's claim. If a policyholder is asked to attend an Examination Under Oath, an attorney should be called to assist the policyholder in preparing for the Examination Under Oath and to attend the Examination Under Oath with the policyholder since an Examination Under Oath is similar to a deposition in that the insurance company will be represented by an attorney and the examination will be conducted in front of a court reporter who will record all of the questions and answers verbatim. This examination is under oath, meaning the policyholder legally swears that answers to the questions are truthful. Preparation of a policyholder is crucial as inconsistent answers can lead to a claim denial. It is important that the policyholder is comfortable during the examination and has been prepared to answer the insurance company attorney’s questions which may be in the areas of the policyholder’s personal finances, credit score, bankruptcy history, past and current employment, past and current claims history, and criminal history. Examinations Under Oath are also used to evaluate the policyholder’s credibility and to evaluate what kind of witness he or she will be if his or her claim or coverage dispute ends up in litigation. It has been my experience that a well-prepared policyholder always presents as a more confident, credible witness.

The insurance company may also request that the policyholder produce estimates, appraisals, receipts for items purchase, pictures of items damaged or lost, documentation regarding prior claims, proof of income, copies of insurance applications, and credit card statements, among a litany of other documentation. I have found policyholders get overwhelmed and defensive when asked to produce these items. An experienced attorney can make the policyholder feel at ease and assist in the production of these items. An experienced attorney can also document production of these items and tactfully and politely request reasons from the insurer as to why documents are being requested. Although the insurer may not give any reasons why it is requesting the documents, a successful Examination Under Oath from the policyholder’s perspective may maximize his or her payment from the insurance company as a jury may believe that the insurer was simply attempting to intimidate and bully the policyholder rather than attempting to investigate a covered loss and pay a valid claim.

Please feel free to respond to this blog with any questions you may have regarding Examinations Under Oath.

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Comments (5) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Bob Cook - November 22, 2013 10:13 AM

I would like to read more outlinig the Rules of engagement at EUO,
Also the Difrence between EUO and DEPOSITIONS.

Second Question , Why is an Insured not Paid to attedn Depo or EUO , it is a cost t them having time off work , and should be paid as part of the claim

Amy Bach - November 22, 2013 10:20 AM

Note that in California, there is a "reasonable" standard that applies to the time and place of an EUO, as well as the insurer's request for documents, etc. Also note that an insured can request copies of their claim file in advance of the EUO - though the statute doesn't specifically say that:

The insured, as often as may be reasonably required and subject to the provisions of Section 2071.1, shall exhibit to any person designated by this company all that remains of any property herein described, and submit to examinations under oath by any person named by this company, and subscribe the same; and, as often as may be reasonably required, shall produce for examinations all books of
account, bills, invoices, and other vouchers, or certified copies thereof if the originals be lost, at any reasonable time and place as may be designated by this company or its representative, and shall permit extracts and copies thereof to be made. The insurer shall inform the insured that tax returns are privileged against disclosure under applicable law but may be necessary to process or determine the claim.

The insurer shall notify every claimant that they may obtain, upon request, copies of claim-related documents. For purposes of this section, "claim-related documents" means all documents that relate to the evaluation of damages, including, but not limited to, repair and
replacement estimates and bids, appraisals, scopes of loss, drawings, plans, reports, third-party findings on the amount of loss, covered damages, and cost of repairs, and all other valuation, measurement, and loss adjustment calculations of the amount of loss, covered damage, and cost of repairs.

David Furtado - November 23, 2013 11:56 PM

Bob and Amy-- I will address your comments in my next blog.

David Furtado - November 25, 2013 12:58 AM

Bob,

The reason why insurers are not required to pay its policyholders for their time in prrparing for and attending an EUO is due to the fact that the EUO is something that the insured has a contractural right to require the policyholder to attend and the policyholder has a contractural duty to attend.

I wish my clients were paid for their time and attorney fees in attending EUOs, especially as in the ones I have defended coverage is extended.

If you have any further questions, please call me.

Thank you for taking your time in reading my blog.


David Furtado - November 25, 2013 1:03 AM

Amy,

Colorado needs the guidance that exists in California. I will expand more on California EUOs tomorrow.

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