A number of fraudulent and/or questionable construction claims are filed against major insurance companies each year. Each of these claims has to be investigated and, in many cases, litigated. Many large property and casualty insurers need an experienced local attorney here in South Florida to investigate claims that seem questionable. Insurance companies can conduct extensive and effective EUOs (examinations under oath) to halt questionable claims in their tracks.
Examinations under oath (EUO) are formal proceedings during which an insured is sworn in the presence of a court reporter, to answer questions presented by an insurance company representative.
It is usually the case that property insurance policies set forth an insurer’s right to demand an EUO as part of the claims process.
During an EUO, insurers seek the facts that determine whether they are obligated to make a payment. The questions asked in the EUO are designed to protect against false claims. EUOs, if conducted properly, can lead to investigations that protect the insurers from having to pay more damages than are rightfully due.
“Many large property and casualty insurers need an experienced local attorney here in South Florida …”
Of course, as in any just proceeding, both sides stand to benefit from a properly run examination because it provides a platform for both the insured and the insurer to focus on factors related to the claim.
To schedule examinations under oath in Florida, an insurer must provide a written demand that includes the following components:
- Documents that must be furnished by the insured prior to the EUO
- Reservation of rights in order to appoint additional individuals
- The name of the insurer’s representative who will be leading the examination
- The name(s) of the insured’s representative(s) who will be examined
- The time and place of the examination – must be reasonable and convenient for the insured
The EUO can be conducted in one session or in multiple sessions that focus on various aspects of the claim or claims being made by the insured.
Those who can be present at an examination include the insured, their attorney, and/or their public adjuster; the insurer, its adjuster and its attorney; as well as a court reporter or notary.
Examinations Under Oath are not depositions: attorneys may be present, but they cannot participate in an EUO. Questions are asked directly by the insurer and must be relevant and material to the claim being made by the insurer.
Reasonable Time, Place and Questions
The insurer has a number of advantages over the insured during an EUO. For one, the insurer asks the questions – and the insured’s role is simply to answer them. Secondly, the insured must attend the EUO. Failing to do so is grounds for voiding the policy and thus eliminating the chances of being reimbursed for damages.
However, there are circumstances in which an EUO can be conducted in a manner that nullifies the insurer’s advantage. For example, the insurer should only ask reasonable questions. These may include requesting information about an insured’s finances, possible motives for fraud and claims history.
Insurers should also beware of creating reasons for an insured to rightfully refuse to comply with a EUO notice. This includes denying coverage prior to the deadline for the insured to produce evidence of their claim, drafting a defective notice of intent to examine, presenting an unreasonable time and place or denying the insured the right to have an attorney at the EUO.
Having the right attorney in place can ensure that these missteps do not take place.
The Importance of Local Counsel
When defending against claims, insurers need a local attorney that can handle insurance claims defense. South Florida Law has big firm resources and small firm attention-to-detail and service. We have the experience and local knowledge necessary to defend an insurer against frivolous and spurious claims. Are you facing claims in South Florida that you feel are overstated or worse, fraudulent? Reach out to South Florida Law today on (954) 900-8885 or via our contact form.