Whenever you file an insurance claim, your insurance company typically conducts an investigation. They do this for several reasons — to uncover fraud, but also to find ways they might be able to reduce the claim or deny it completely on a technicality. It’s also likely that part of their motivation is making the process more difficult so that their client is more likely to give up and take a loss.
Part of the insurance company’s investigation process is what’s called an “examination under oath.” This process is not common. If you’re being asked to sit for an examination under oath, your insurance company is having an issue with the documents you’ve provided or the facts and circumstances surrounding the claim. This is a formal contractual process where a representative of the insurance company asks you questions about the claim under oath. At Watson, Espinal & Barnard, PLLC., we have extensive experience helping clients get through their examinations under oath. Before every examination under oath, you will receive a letter from your insurance company or its attorney requesting you bring several different documents. These typically include:
1. Photos of damage
It is helpful to have photos of the damage for which you are making your claim. Having photos of the property before and after the damage occurred will assist your insurance company in completing its investigation.
2. Bank statements
You may be asked questions about some of the costs you expended around the time of the loss. Having bank statements to consult can help you answer such questions accurately. However, these bank statements should not just be handed over to your insurance carrier simply because they ask for them. Your financial situation is completely irrelevant as to whether or not your insurance claim is covered by your policy. When in the wrong hands, your financial situation can be used as a way for your insurance company to pressure you into an unfair settlement. We recommend that you consult with an attorney before handing over bank statements to your insurance company.
3. Records of previous insurance claims
You may be asked about past insurance claims, so it is useful to have the details of these on hand during your examination. Although this is a time to disclose past insurance claims or damages to your property, you should be careful to understand the difference between what was claimed and repaired on your past insurance claim and what is being claimed now. A cunning insurance company representative may attempt to confuse the issues and policy language in order to persuade you to withdraw your current or parts of your current claim. Again, we strongly recommend consulting with an attorney if you are asked to bring these documents.
4. Lease agreements
If you are making a claim for loss of rent or use, you may need to be able to demonstrate how much money you were receiving from rental payments before the damages occurred.
5. Anything else requested by the insurance company
The insurance company will provide you with a list of documentation that they want you to bring with you to your examination under oath. It may include the documents above and/or other documents. It’s important to follow their instructions in order to fulfill your duty to cooperate with the insurance claim. If you’re unsure what is relevant or truly required, you should immediately contact an attorney experienced with examination under oaths.
Who can help me prepare for my examination under oath?
At Watson, Espinal & Barnard, PLLC., we have extensive experience helping clients navigate insurance claims of all shapes and sizes, and achieve the highest possible compensation. If you’ve made or plan to make a claim, we can help. If you’re dealing with an insurance issue in South Florida, call us at (305) 665-0000 to schedule a free consultation. We can even offer a free on-site inspection to assess the damages to your property. We can’t wait to hear from you!