Life insurance and property insurance companies typically have the right to obtain information and material that might be in the insured’s possession regarding a claim through the examination under oath (EUO) process. The right to acquire an EUO comes from the insurance contract itself. Unlike a deposition where you can have an attorney make objections on your behalf, an insurance company is normally able to ask any relevant question without objections from your attorney. Life and property insurance companies will typically hire an attorney to ask you questions at an EUO. These are people with extensive knowledge in the property and life insurance fields and they know exactly what questions to ask. Without an attorney to represent your life or property claim you risk the denial of your claim. It is important to get an experienced attorney on your side prior to the EUO.
One strategy used by Missouri attorneys is to avoid the EUO and instead file a lawsuit. In Wells v. Farmers Alliance Mut. Ins. Co., the Court considered the question of whether an insured can avoid the assertion of non-cooperation by refusing to attend an EUO and instead filing a lawsuit. 2009 WL 1259977 at *3 (E.D. Mo., May 4, 2009). The court concluded that the jury should decide whether the insured satisfied the requirements of the insurance policy by avoiding the EUO and instead appearing at a deposition. In failing to attend an EUO the insured faces a substantial risk that the policy is canceled because they did not fulfill their end of the insurance contract by avoiding the EUO. When faced with the potential of an examination under oath in a life or property insurance case it is important to get an experienced attorney on your side.