If you’re looking up information for examinations under oath, you’ve likely been asked by your insurance company to take one. Let us first say that this is a common step in the claims process when you are making a claim through your own insurance company. Having said that, it’s not unusual for you to be worried. Being asked to take an examination under oath can make your insurance claim process feel adversarial, as if you’re heading for an interrogation. But, by being prepared, you can help the insurer understand the full value of your claim. This article is meant to give some basic information about an examination under oath. If after reading you’re still worried, give us a call. We’d be happy to discuss your matter with you and figure out if you need an attorney on your side.

What is an Examination Under Oath?

An “examination under oath” (EUO) is an insurance process in which an insurer asks questions of a witness, under oath and recorded by a court reporter. Almost always, the witness is the insured, and the insured is making a claim through their policy. The examination is a tool for insurers to investigate and evaluate the claim being made. The questions asked will revolve around the circumstances of the event leading to your claim, but can get into tangentially related aspects of your life, such as your credit and claims history.

Why Did My Insurance Company Ask Me to Take an Examination Under Oath?

The EUO has developed into a tool for insurers to investigate and evaluate claims. Because they are taken under oath, they help insurance companies avoid potentially false or fraudulent claims. It is also a method for verifying the information which you have provided. Many of the questions you’re asked in an EUO will revolve around information you’ve already provided to a claims handler, but by making these statements under oath, you’re establishing the truth of the statements. Unless the insurer has a reasonable basis for believing otherwise, the statements given under oath should be the basis of their evaluation, along with other established information such as receipts, medical records, and police or fire reports.   

Do I Have to Give an Examination Under Oath?

For individuals making a claim through their insurance policy, who have been asked to take an EUO, you will almost always have to submit to the examination in order to recover under your policy as almost every insurance policy contains a cooperation clause and/or a clause agreeing to submit to an examination under oath. Your insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurer in which you’ve agreed to make payments to the insurance company in exchange for their making payments to you if an unexpected event occurs. However, included in this contract are conditions which must also be met before the insurer is required to tender payment. Almost all policies require your cooperation through the claims process, and many of these policies explicitly require the policy holder submit to an examination. So, if you do not submit to the EUO, the insurer will not have to make a payment on your claim, because the conditions necessary for that payment will not be met.

The requirement to submit to an EUO becomes less clear where the individual is not a named insured. For the most part, an EUO is going to be asked of the named insured. That is, the named individual on the policy, who entered into the contract. Sometimes the person insured under the policy is someone who is insured by definition. Likely someone who is a family member, or roommate. There is conflicting case law across the nation as to whether a refusal in such circumstances warrants an insurer denying a claim. In State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Miceli, 518 N.E.2d 357 (Ill.App.Ct. 1987), the court held that the named insured’s children were not required to submit to an EUO. The children could submit their own claims under the policy without having to undergo the EUO process. However, in Durasevic v. Grange Ins. Co. of Michigan, No. 18-2035, 2019 WL 3035750 (6th Cir. July 11, 2019), the court held that named insureds children were required to submit to an EUO in order for the named insureds to recover under the policy. 

What if I Make a Mistake During My Examination Under Oath?

Making a mistake during your EUO will not necessarily preclude your recovery if you are being willful and honest in answering the examiners questions.  However, a EUO conducted with the intent to deceive, could lead to a denial of your claim if it is discovered that you intentionally answered untruthfully. Almost all policies include a fraud, misrepresentation, and concealment provision. But all three of these acts must be willful. The policy holder must be purposefully acting in order for the provision to bar coverage. An examinee will not trigger these clauses where they intended to give the right answer but mistakenly gave the wrong one.  

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Examination Under Oath?

Whether you need a lawyer for your EUO depends on your specific situation although it is generally advisable to have a lawyer present to represent you.  If for any reason you would like to have an attorney with you, it is well within your rights to have one. The insurer has no right to conduct an EUO with the policy holder alone and unrepresented. An attorney can help you prepare for an EUO and attend the EUO with you. The preparation will help you know what type of questions will be asked and what to expect from the insurer. Questions from the insurer can revolve around your finances, employment, past claims, or criminal history, in addition to all of the facts surrounding the event leading to the claim as well.

How Haffner &Morgan Can Help

If you’d like assistance with your own EUO the attorneys at Haffner & Morgan may be able to help you. We can help prepare you for what to expect during the EUO and be there with you through the process. We may also be able to assist you in maximizing your claim value, negotiating your medical liens, getting you treatment, and navigating the claims process.

The information provided in this blog is not meant to be legal advice. It is provided as an informative guide only.  If you have any questions regarding a personal injury, contact a lawyer today. The attorneys at Haffner & Morgan offer no cost consultations and are happy to answer any questions you may have.