Reading this article will teach you what an examination under oath is and how to prepare for it
You made a Florida insurance claim. Your insurance company has now requested your attendance at an examination under oath. The request was received in the mail from a lawyer representing the insurance company. The letter is long and on official law firm stationery. The lawyer wants you to bring a lot of documents with you to this appointment. This looks official and scary. You ask yourself, what should I do now?
What is an examination under oath?
An examination under oath, also known as an EUO, is a process by which your insurance company can ask you questions about your insurance claim while you are under an oath to tell the truth. The oath to tell the truth is the same as though you are in Court testifying before a Judge. Not telling the truth while under oath is perjury and has severe consequences. Perjury during an examination under oath can allow the insurance company to escape any liability to pay your claim and there could be criminal sanctions as well.
Why must I attend an examination under oath?
If you want to get paid for your insurance claim you will need to attend an examination under oath when requested by the insurance company. The requirement to attend an examination under oath is a mandatory part of your insurance contract. You will be in breach of your insurance contract if you do not attend a requested examination under oath. Your insurance company does not have to pay you for your claim if you are in breach of your insurance contract.
When is an examination under oath requested?
The insurance company decides when or if to request an examination under oath. An examination under oath will take place, if at all, during the insurance company’s investigation of your claim. Normally, this means that an examination under oath will be requested early on during the claim. There are no rules for when the actual examination under oath is scheduled. The insurance company is to coordinate the date and time with you so you can attend. Sometimes the insurance company or its lawyer will request you to contact them to arrange a convenient date and time. In other instances, the insurance company or its lawyer will select a date and time on its own and advise you to appear. If you are not available to attend the examination under oath, you should in advance of the scheduled date, notify the insurance company or lawyer in writing of your conflict and request they reschedule on a new date. Do not ignore the scheduled examination date and not show up.
Where is an examination under oath conducted?
An examination under oath is conducted in the county in which your property is located. The actual location of the examination under oath varies. Some insurance companies prefer that the examination under oath be conducted in one of their local offices. The majority of examinations under oath are however conducted in the offices of the lawyer representing the insurance company.
Who is present during an examination under oath?
The attendees of an examination under oath can include each named homeowner or insured from the insurance policy, an insurance company adjuster or representative, a lawyer representing the insurance company, a court reporter to transcribe everything that is said, and your own lawyer if you so choose. Recently, insurance companies have included their right to take an examination under oath of any person you have hired regarding the insurance claim. This could include any contractor, plumber, or public adjuster you retained for the claim.
How is the examination under oath conducted?
The examination under oath is conducted separately for each person. The lawyer for the insurance company will ask you questions about your background, education, employment and the details surrounding your claim. Topics for the details surrounding your claim include when you purchased the home and the entire history of the home as it relates to past insurance claims, repairs and remodeling projects. Finally, for your existing insurance claim, you will be asked how the damages were caused; when you first noticed the damages; who was present when the damages occurred; what exactly was damaged; and what you did to fix the damages. The format for the examination is a question by the lawyer and your verbal answer. This is a semi-formal process and is not to be mistaken for a simple meeting and conversation. Think of the examination under oath as a one-way interview, you do not get to ask questions of the lawyer or the insurance company.
What must I bring to an examination under oath?
The safe answer for what to bring to an examination under oath is whatever the insurance company asks you to bring. You do not want to breach your insurance policy by failing to cooperate with the insurance company during its investigation of the claim. This does not mean that the insurance company can go on a fishing expedition and make unreasonable requests for information and documents that do not affect your claim. This is a judgment call and when in doubt you are counseled to seek the advice of a Florida insurance lawyer if you have any doubts as to your rights and responsibilities.
Should I hire a lawyer for the examination under oath?
There is no legal requirement for you to hire a lawyer for your examination under oath. That being said, you are strongly encouraged to at least contact a Florida insurance lawyer to go over your case prior to the examination under oath. You do not get to re-do the examination under oath, mistakes made there will follow you throughout your case. If during your insurance claim you are not sure whether the insurance company is handling your claim properly, immediately protect your interests and seek the help of a lawyer. Just as when you see a doctor for a medical problem, see a lawyer when you have a legal problem. Play it safe and be smart.
About the Author: Patrick Russell, Esq., has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1994 and is an experienced Florida insurance lawyer. Patrick started his insurance law practice more than twenty years ago when he represented homeowners and business owners for their Hurricane Andrew insurance claims. The purpose of this article is educational and not for the solicitation of legal services. The goal is to avoid the mistakes learned from the past, specifically those from previous windstorms. Knowledge is power. Information is free. Mistakes are costly. If you would like more tips on how to process your Florida insurance claim, Patrick can be reached at (305) 608-2977 or here.