Earlier this week, I got a call from an attorney who practices in Seattle, a city I hold dear to my heart. It is where I spent a couple of years after meeting my fiancée (now wife) before moving back down to California to join Merlin Law Group.
This attorney was looking for an answer to the following question: Can an insurance company refuse to provide an insured with a copy of the insured’s previously recorded statement in advance of an examination under oath (EUO)?
He was preparing a client for an EUO and was hoping he could get his hands on the recorded statement. He consulted various sources before finding our firm’s website and ultimately, yours truly. This attorney could not locate any Washington authority on this issue. I told him that to the extent he would find it useful, I would chase down a California authority for him.
I found Brizuela v. CalFarm Insurance Company,1 where the court held:
It was not unreasonable for CalFarm [the insurance company] to reject Brizuela’s [the insured] request for copies of his previously recorded statement. There is no authority for the proposition that an insurer is under a legal obligation to provide an insured with a copy of the insured’s previously recorded statements taken before a civil action has been filed and discovery commenced.
So, there we have it. The answer unfortunately is yes, in California, an insurance company can withhold the recorded statement from the insured prior to an EUO. Certainly, the recorded statement must be produced if requested in discovery once the parties are in litigation, but until then, at least in California, an insurance company cannot be compelled to turn over the recorded statement. I surmise that this is probably the rule in most jurisdictions.
I gave the above case to the Seattle attorney and wished him the best with his client’s EUO. He thanked me and offered to buy me a beverage of my choice the next time I am back visiting Seattle. I enjoy hearing from other attorneys, public adjusters and policyholders who are searching for answers to questions that may have them stumped. If I don’t know the answer, I don’t mind looking it up. Finding solutions to problems is what we do. When we can help, it gives me a great deal of satisfaction.