Have you been scheduled to give an “Examination Under Oath”?

You had a loss that you believe was covered by your insurance policy and you submitted a claim to the insurance carrier. Maybe it was related to damage from Hurricane Irma. You provided a proof of loss to the insurer. Now, you've been contacted about submitting to an "examination under oath." What do you do now?

What is an Examination Under Oath?

An "Examination Under Oath" (EUO) is a procedure by which a witness, usually a person making a claim for insurance benefits, is questioned about the particulars of his or her claim. The EUO is conducted by an attorney employed by the insurance carrier, and is recorded by a court reporter or a stenographer. More recently, EUOs have been video recorded in addition to being taken down by a court reporter.

As you might expect from the name, a witness who gives an EUO is always required to give an oath or affirmation that their evidence is the truth. As a result, witnesses who knowingly testify falsely are potentially subject to prosecution for perjury, false statement, or insurance fraud.

Do I have to submit to the Examination Under Oath?

Whether you are required to submit to the EUO depends on the language of the insurance policy under which you have made your claim. Property and casualty policies always include provisions that require your cooperation in the event of a claim, and this can include submitting to the EUO. Some policies explicitly require a claimant to submit to an EUO at the company's request. Where such language is included in the policy, if you refuse to submit to the EUO, then the insurer will typically deny the claim on that basis.

What should I do if the insurer asks me for an Examination Under Oath?

You should contact an attorney for assistance with the EUO and possibly for assistance with presenting your claim for insurance benefits.

As noted above, the insurer is represented by an attorney. Usually the insurance company's attorney is there to assess your honesty and truthfulness, your command of the facts that pertain to your claim for insurance benefits, and whether there may be some legal or factual basis on which to deny your claim, in whole or in part. The attorney for your insurance company is probably already familiar with the language of your insurance policy and may be attempting to secure information that would serve to allow a denial of your claim.

Your attorney can help you prepare for giving an EUO by walking you through the process and practicing with you, so that when the time comes you know what to expect and how to handle the questions you'll most likely be asked.

In addition, your attorney can attend the EUO with you to protect your rights by limiting the EUO to the relevant information, and make sure that you're answering only the questions you're required to answer. And with the assistance of an attorney, you can level the playing field; your attorney can review the terms of your policy, assess the amount of the insurance company's coverage and exposure, and help collect and organize the information and records necessary to prove your claim.

If you need assistance with an examination under oath then please contact us.