Examinations Under Oath (EUOs) are often requested by an insurance company during the investigation of disputed insurance claims. While an EUO is similar to a deposition in many ways, defense attorneys are quick to point out that EUOs are not subject to the rules that govern depositions because they are created by contractual agreement. Because EUOs are not governed by the rules of civil procedure, disputes often arise over simple matters like where an EUO is to take place.
Because an EUO is a contractual obligation, the primary place to look for an answer to this problem is in the policy itself. Policies must be interpreted as would be understood by an ordinary person. Unfortunately, policies are usually silent as to the potential location of an EUO.
Policy language may be scrutinized as to what it does not say. For example, when an insurance company requests that an insured sit for an EUO at the law office of the insurance company’s attorneys, I believe that the location can be intimidating for the policyholder. I tell the carrier that the post-loss obligations call for the insured to sit for an EUO at the insurer’s request, but not wherever the insurer would like to take it.
Fortunately, there is one last area of law to turn to – case law. Every insurance defense lawyer in Florida loves to quote from Goldman vs. State Farm, 660 So2d 300 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995), to say: no EUO, no recovery. But a close reading of Goldman reveals a pearl for policyholders.
Goldman also held that examinations under oath must take place at, “a mutually convenient time and place as contemplated by the policy.” In essence, though the typical policy is silent on a specific location, the cooperation requirement inherent in an insurance policy suggests examinations should be coordinated mutually and conveniently. This is a very important point to emphasize when the insurers demand an EUO.