Preparing for an Examination under Oath
There are many situations where you might be required to take an oath. The experienced insurance attorneys at Freundlich & Littman, LLC want you to be prepared for an examination under oath. An examination under oath is a relatively routine procedure. If you are prepared for the questions you will likely be asked, it will not be as strenuous an ordeal. This article will discuss what an examination under oath is and how to prepare for one.
What is an Examination Under Oath?
A legal oath is a pledge to tell the truth during a legal procedure. An examination under oath is procedure typically held by insurance companies. Examinations under oath occur in both commercial and residential insurance policies, and are generally required pursuant to the terms of an insurance policy. In many ways, an examination under oath is a quasi-legal proceeding. After you file a claim with your insurance company, they may require you to report to a representative from the agency. A court reporter will be there to take down everything that was said, just as in a deposition or trial. You will be required to take an oath, after which you will be asked a series of questions. These questions are designed to mimic a deposition. In a deposition, as you may have seen on popular media, is designed as a fact-finding exercise. It allows the insurer to investigate and have all the information needed before making a determination on your claim. The insurance company will typically hire an insurance attorney to represent them at the examination under oath. It is important that you have your own insurance lawyer present to represent your interests at the examination under oath.
What Should I Expect?
The situation is becoming routine in the insurance world. It is the chance for the insurer to ask questions regarding your claim to make sure that everything is in place. your insurance lawyer or the insurance adjuster may be present during an examination under oath. If you need legal advice before the procedure or wish us to represent you, don’t hesitate to contact the experienced insurance lawyers at Freundlich & Littman.
Prior to the examination under oath, you will likely be sent a notice of a scheduled time and place. There you will be told of your rights during the examination under oath. They may ask you to bring along certain documents pertaining to your insurance claim. You may even be required to attend several of these, depending on the nature of your case and whether the insurer needs specialized agents to ask you questions.
You can expect to receive questions about your claim, prior claims, and questions regarding fraud. This is the insurance company trying to ascertain any false claims. Sometimes, insurance companies will even ask for personal records, such as banking records and cell phone bills as part of their investigation. Insurance companies notoriously do not want to pay for claims if they can avoid it, and although their efforts may seem obtrusive, you are required to comply with their requests (more on that below). Talking with your attorney ahead of time will prepare you on what to say. It will also keep you calm when these expected questions arise. The entire process may take a few hours to complete, so be prepared for that. Having an insurance lawyer at the examination will also help you to ensure that the insurance company is not stepping outside of the permissible scope of their investigation.
Can I Refuse to Attend or Answer Any Questions?
In short, yes, you can refuse; however, there are potential consequences that you face by doing so. Unless you have a legally viable reason for refusal you may not be able to avoid negative consequences. Refusing to attend an examination under oath can result in a cancellation of your claim and policy.
There are some instances where refusal is excused. These include, an unreasonable time and location, refusal of right to have an insurance lawyer present, or that the notice you received was not complete. Before you refuse to attend, contact an attorney to make sure you are within your right to do so in order to avoid losing your rights under your insurance policy.
Just as you cannot refuse to attend the examination under oath, you cannot refuse to answer a question based on the Fifth Amendment. It does not apply in an examination under oath situation. In fact, refusing to answer a question gives the insurer’s representative the right to cancel the examination along with any claim. Remember, your insurance policy is a contract. If you fail to meet the requirements or comply, the company may exercise the right to breach the contract. These provisions will be included in your policy.
If you are worried that your policy may be cancelled or you are unsure what to say, seek legal advice from an insurance lawyer. It is always better to know what to say before you outright refuse to answer a question.
Do I Need an Insurance Lawyer?
You are not required to have an insurance lawyer present at an examination under oath, but it is strongly advised to have one. The insurer’s representative will likely be accompanied by an insurance lawyer, but neither individual has your interest at heart. An insurance lawyer will be able to spot if your insurer or insurer’s insurance lawyer is doing anything that isn’t strictly above board. Call us today at 215-545-8500 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your upcoming examination under oath.