Insurance claims more often than not cross the boundary into the legal world. Claims disputed can turn into struggles that last many years, specifically if the insurance company decides to pull the policy holder into an “Examination Under Oath.”
An examination under oath (EUO) is not just something that can be applied to those in the midst of a tough trial. In fact, according to this post on the Property Insurance Law Blog insurance companies can force policy holders to submit to an examination under oath in California.
What does this mean?
According to the post from Chip Merlin:
The California Court of Appeal has held this means the insured must sit for an examination under penalty of perjury and “answer all proper questions as part of the insurer’s investigation of the insured’s claim.”
The policy holder can not refuse this request or the insurance companu can deny the coverage for whatever damage has been done.
So if a policy holder (or public adjuster) finds themselves in California and in a situation where they get pulled into a EUO then they need to follow this advice:
…ask for and get all claim-related documents from your insurer’s files before answering questions under oath and before signing anything relating to settlements or confidentiality.
Why is this important?
Well, in California (and in most other states) there are Fair Claim Handling practices that insruance companies must abide by. Having access to the documents related to the claim may help you find inconsistencies. It might also help you respond properly to whatever questions may be asked.
It’s also important to note that you are legally entitled to see files related to the claim.
On top of this, Merlin also outlined some other rights policy holders have:
1. An insurer that determines that it will conduct an examination under oath of an insured shall notify the insured of that determination and shall include a copy of this section in the notification.
2. An insurer may conduct an examination under oath only to obtain information that is relevant and reasonably necessary to process or investigate the claim.
3. An examination under oath may only be conducted upon reasonable notice, at a reasonably convenient place and for a reasonable length of time.
4. The insured may be represented by counsel and may record the examination proceedings in their entirety.
5. The insurer shall notify the insured that, upon request and free of charge, it will provide the insured
with a copy of the transcript of the proceedings and a tape of the proceedings, if one exists. Where an insured requests a copy of the transcript, the tape, or both, of their examination under oath, the insurer shall provide it within 10 business days of receipt by the insurer or its counsel of the transcript, the tape, or both. An insured may make sworn corrections to the transcript so it accurately reflects the testimony under oath.
6. In an examination under oath, an insured may assert any objection that can be made in a deposition under state or federal law. However, if as a result of asserting an objection, an insured fails to provide an answer to a material question, and that failure prevents the insurer from being able to determine the extent of loss and validity of the claim, the rights of the insured under the contract may be affected.