In most insurance disputes, the insurance company (insurer) has the right to conduct an Examination Under Oath (EUO) of the policyholder (insured). The insurer's right is a contractual right which is found in the terms and conditions of a policy. An insured can look to their policy to identify the exact language regarding the EUO which typically is located in the section of the policy entitled "Duties After Loss."
The insurance policy establishes that the insurer has the right to take an Examination Under Oath and request that the insured also attend the EUO with certain discovery production. An EUO is a formal proceeding which is taken under oath and one where the insurance company's representative (typically a lawyer) questions the insured about their respective claim.
Pursuant to the contractual obligations of their policy, an insured has an obligation to make themselves available for an EUO. An insured's failure to comply with the insurer's attempts to set an EUO can constitute a material breach of the policy and may lead to a valid denial of the insured's claim. During an EUO, all questions that are material and relevant to the claim are considered valid and, therefore, must be answered. An insured's refusal to answer material questions can also be a basis for the insurer to deny a claim.
Oftentimes, an insured will elect to have an attorney represent them at their Examination Under Oath. It is important to note, however, that the scope of the insured's attorney is limited for purposes of an EUO and their role differs greatly from that in a deposition. The insured's attorney has the right to be present during the EUO; however, courts have held that an insured's attorney cannot participate in the EUO. Even an insured's right to invoke their 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination are limited because of the contractual obligation imposed by the insurance policy.
Before the Examination Under Oath is conducted, it is highly recommended that an insured discuss the process and obligation with an experienced Florida insurance attorney. EUOs can be conducted in insurance disputes ranging from sinkhole coverage to personal injury matters and understanding the process and limitation of rights during an EUO can be beneficial to the insured.