Q: For an Examination Under Oath (EUO), what can/can’t an attorney do for a claim filer? Can they interject into the questionning? Also, is the insurance company required to provide a reason for requesting the EUO if asked for an explanation?
An EUO is a contractual animal that virtually every insurance policy will contain. Essentially an EUO, or examination under oath, requires a homeowner to appear for a deposition style questioning at a time and place the insurance company demands. It also typically requires a homeowner to bring documents with them as well. Usually the insurance company has hired a lawyer to take this examination but occasionally it will be conducted by an insurance adjuster. First, the documents. Yes, you should bring any and every document that they ask for if you can. I do not believe a homeowner need to go and conduct an investigation to track down documents they do not have but, if you got them, bring them. Second, time and place. This has been the subject of some debate in my cases before but generally not all attorneys are bad people. If they schedule your EUO for a date and time that is inconvenient for you, try calling their office and ask to move it to a mutually agreeable date. They usually will.
As for the questions, there really is no limit on this. An EUO is not a true legal being, meaning it is not created by our rules of evidence or statutes. Generally, the insurance company can ask about anything that is relevant to the claim. So many insurers like to fight over this and frankly it’s usually not worth it. Yes the questions may seem mundane and immaterial to your case but the end result of not answering them may be worse. So what if they find out your mothers maiden name? Just give it up and get it over with. The less documents produced and the less questions answered equals more suspicion and potential that your case is denied. Insureds should know that there is relatively strong case law that says if an insured refuses to cooperate with the EUO process by either not showing up or refusing to provide documents or refusing to answer questions, their claim can be denied, for good.
An attorney certainly can be helpful, maybe not so much during the EUO itself as we can’t answer questions for you but, attorneys can help you prepare for the questions you will see, help you collect the documents you will need and most importantly make you feel more comfortable going into the EUO so that you can answer questions clearly and correctly.