What Is an Examination Under Oath and How Should You Handle An EUO Request?
Dealing with a major natural disaster, house fire, flood, hail storm, or other issue that affects your house can be extremely stressful, especially if your home is uninhabitable.
Not only do you have to navigate all the aspects of your day to day life once you and your family’s life has been uprooted, you need to deal with your insurance company so that you are compensated for the total loss of your house or receive the money you need to make the necessary repairs that will be required to make it livable.
So, when you are dealing with all with of this, the last thing you want to do is appear in court and make a statement under oath.
That said, ensuring you file a complete insurance claim that makes you whole is hardly something you want to deal with, but it’s absolutely necessary if you want to be compensated and receive the payout you are entitled to from your insurance provider.
An examination under oath or EUO is often part of the claim process and it can be extremely stressful, particularly if you are not well prepared in advance. Your public adjuster and/or attorney can help you with this.
Be aware that you can be required to submit to an examination under oath even if you were acting in good faith and cooperating fully with your insurance company’s policies. In fact, you probably didn’t even know that this process is something you can be required to do.
Obviously, the last thing you want to do is be examined under oath by your insurance company. What’s more, this requirement often occurs as a surprise after you’ve done your due diligence by contacting your agent, your public adjuster, and arranging any necessary, reasonable repairs that will protect your property from further damage, which is why it’s wise to keep any and all receipts and records of estimates, etc.
Read on to learn more about how to handle the EUO part of making an insurance claim after you experience a disaster on your property.
What Is an Examination Under Oath (EUO)?
An examination under oath is a formal proceeding that starts when you receive a certified letter in the mail from your insurance company requiring your presence for questioning by a representative hired by your insurance company (usually a defense attorney or similar professional). You will be sworn in and the EUO will be conducted in the presence of a court reporter.
The purpose of the EUO or examination under oath is to obtain the necessary information to evaluate and process your claim; the fact that it is under oath and recorded by a court reporter ensures that you have to legally swear that your answers are truthful. If you fail to tell the truth you claim may be denied and worse, you could be accused of insurance fraud. The whole process can be intimidating and nerve-wracking if you don’t know what to expect.
But if you’re well prepared and understand the purpose of the insurance company’s EUO, you don’t need to be intimidated. The goal of an examination under oath is for your insurance company to collect all the relevant facts about your claim, assess whether any additional information or further cooperation is required from you (the insured), and to give you every opportunity to document your claim before they make a final decision as to your payout.
Is It Required for Me to Appear at An Examination Under Oath?
In the US insurance companies have the right to request an EUO from their clients, and it is generally a contractual obligation outlined in your policy. If you look at your homeowner’s or other property owner’s insurance policy, there’s likely something in the Conditions section entitled “Duties After Loss” that includes the fact that you have to submit to examinations under oath as often as the insurance company requires.
Having said that, if you fail to show up for an EUO hearing, you may not be breaking any actual laws but you do run the risk of having your claims denied based on a breach of contract. In fact, if you do not appear at an EUO, it is highly likely that the insurance company will deny your claim.
It is also absolutely essential to keep in mind that an EUO is held because the insurance company demands it, so they and their representatives are looking out for their best interests and financial well-being, not yours. That role lies with your public adjuster.
Keep in mind the unfortunate truth that sometimes examinations under oath are held for reasons not in your best interest. For instance, the insurance company may want to delay a claim, intimidate you, the policy holder, or even as a sort of “fishing expedition” to find potential reasons to deny your claim.
After all, EUOs are costly for insurance companies to hold, so asking you to participate in one can be part of a broader plan to deny your claim.
All the same, you shouldn’t be alarmed at the request – just reach out to your public adjuster or attorney as soon as possible to arm yourself with the necessary knowledge to tackle the examination under oath and achieve the ideal outcome for yourself.
As the insured party, you’d be wise to work with an attorney who can be your advocate and adviser while you navigate the complicated terrain of insurance claims and EUOs; what’s more, they can help keep the opposition – your insurance company – honest during the entire process.
Do You Need to Have Your Own Lawyer at an Examination Under Oath (EUO)?
A lawyer isn’t required for an EUO, but having one help you prepare is always a good idea. Problems like inconsistent answers can lead to claim denials; and you should understand that even if you are not trying to obfuscate evidence or otherwise hide anything, the courtroom environment can be stressful and cause you to misspeak or be unclear.
An attorney with experience dealing with EUOs, what an under oath meaning is, and insurance issues can help you prepare by giving you an idea of what to expect and how to answer the various types of questions you’re most likely to be asked.
Your lawyer can help you be a calm, confident, and credible witness who presents the actual facts and details about your claim and property loss clearly and honestly.
While your attorney will be able to supply more advice about your particular claim, you should know that the question you’re asked during an examination under oath may include queries about your credit score, previous and current employment, personal finances, the history of any previous insurance claims you might have made, and even any potential criminal history.
Note that during an EUO, your lawyer is not allowed to object in the same that they would during a legal deposition, so it’s important you prepare ahead of time. Once the examination under oath begins, it’s up to you to reply to the questions to the best of your abilities.
How A Public Adjuster Can Help You During the EUO Process
Your public adjuster is most likely an attorney or has a relationship with one who can be by your side during the examination under oath.
Note that while they cannot speak during the EUO, they can help you prepare beforehand by giving you examples of the questions that may be asked, gather any and all necessary documents, and make sure that you understand the potential consequences of the EUO process. They can also help you debrief afterwards and determine the next steps for your claim.
If you have been summoned for an examination under oath by your insurance company, the first person you should reach out to is your public adjuster and/or attorney.
Secret Tips for Appearing at An Examination Under Oath
If you are the point where an EUO is necessary, then chances are you’ve hired a licensed public adjuster (at least we hope so).
You should hire a public adjuster with experience in your area and with similar types of property, so you know that you have help with preparing for the oath, documenting the damage, gathering estimates and costs for both temporary and permanent repairs, and all of the other information required for a proper insurance claim.
In fact, your public adjuster is your biggest ally during the insurance claim process in general, but during an EUO in particular. And they can be your biggest source of support, information, and tips that will help you make the most of the appearance.
An experienced public adjuster can and will help you gather and organize any and all documentation required (things like bank statements, tax returns, records of previous insurance claims, and other receipts might be called for).
In addition, they will help you get familiarized with the structure of the EUO process and the types of questions you may be asked – and perhaps more importantly, how to counter them.
After all, the insurance company’s attorneys have the company’s best interests at heart and they are well-versed in the types of tactics that might cause you to make mistakes during the EUO; what’s more, they will help you practice your answers to potential questions and help you be as confident as possible so you can present the best case for your claim.
“Practice makes perfect” might be the biggest secret tip of all. Work with your attorney and in conjunction with your public adjuster in order to make sure that your examination under oath is a positive experience and your insurance claim is approved.