Your vehicle has been stolen. The vehicle has been recovered a couple days later. Thirty days have gone past and they refuse to pay you. Your innocent, you had nothing to do with the theft and yet it seems as though they are accusing you of being a crook. Actually, they are.
You have done everything they asked to cooperate by supplying phone records, tax records, keys and everything else and now they are demanding this thing called an EUO. What's that?
I need to put in at this time I am not an attorney. I do not give legal advice and everything addressed here is by my actual training background and experience serving as an expert in the areas of vehicle theft, forensics and fire. I commonly have to review the complete file on a case when working for the insured/client attorney
The EUO: Also known as Examination Under Oath.
By now the insurance company has built a case on preponderance of the evidence (where the average man seeing all the facts would be lead to believe something did in fact happen). Preponderance does not meet the thresholds of clear and convincing or reasonable doubt. It doesn't have to.
Circumstantial cases are built where assumption and innuendo can be displayed as fact.
Chances are pretty good that if someone is actually fighting a case to save their reputation that they rarely had anything to do with the theft of their claim. At least that has been the situations I have run across and I have been involved in hundreds of these cases.
Please remember too that my part as an expert is only on the vehicle and I rarely know all the facts to the case.
I would never recommend that someone scheduled for an EUO go there alone. Even if you had nothing to do with the theft, you should be represented by an attorney. This does not show innocence or guilt. It shows wisdom!
Attorneys live by semantics and playing with words. Their job is to twist and manipulate the words of whomever they are opposing. Their job is to keep their client (insurance company) from paying the claim.
If you go to an EUO without your own attorney, it is like shooting fish in a barrel for the insurance attorney or leading the sheep to slaughter.
The average person can rarely stand up to these attorneys.
Experts such as myself go through depositions which are under oath as well. If you sue the insurance company, you will most likely be deposed as well.
In fact, in my early years I was not as good as I am now at holding up through these interrogations known as depositions. Now however, I look at these situations as a big chess game and a battle of wits.
In fact, at this moment I know that there are potential opposing attorneys reviewing my writings on a daily basis. Could cost them a lot of ink especially if they look at all my changes on this site since the 90's. Yes, attorneys violate copyright law under the sake of "Public Domain." When State Farm deposed me in 2007, copies of my site pages looked as thick as a LA phone book! The attorney had 18 of my former deposition transcripts a pirated copy of one of my books and much more! All so they can take statements out of context and compare to the vehicle at hand!
In my opinion they think they are sneaky and sharp, but I always try to stay one step ahead! I know who is visiting my site. Now chances are they will use my statements here and on other pages of mine in an attempt to attack me.
The EUO has questions that will intimidate you, anger you. If you are represented, your attorney will give you direction on how you should answer the question.
They are trying to accuse you of being party to the crime. You need to be honest, however do not give them any answer they do not need. Do not "Help" the other side. Do not guess. If you are not sure on times, don't make it sound like you are. Remember, whatever you say in the EUO is going to be compared to all the insurance notes and your recorded statement you gave about the incident.
Yes, every time you speak to a claims rep and what you say is recorded in writing.
The interviewer whether a seasoned SIU claims rep or an attorney asks questions for a living. You are on their playing field!
The best thing to realize during an EUO is the insurance company does not want to pay the claim and in essence, you are guilty until proven innocent.
Now, another recommendation (not legal advice) if you had something to do with the theft, drop the claim before the EUO because there may be the chance the other side is gathering information to give to a prosecutor in an attempt to charge you with a crime!
Insurance companies like to make examples of those that commit fraud.
If you are innocent however, I recommend fighting this case as vigilantly as possible because the insurance company does not care if they cost you, your job, family or anything else you hold near and dear. If you have a job that requires honesty (i.e. police officer, fire fighter, real estate person, or any profession that is regulated) this claim could cost you your job,even if you had nothing to do with the theft of your vehicle! These people flat out don't care as long as they don't have to honor the claim.
Depositions: Much like the EUO, they require sworn testimony. I have been through many as an expert and to me now, they are fun, but in the beginning over 10 years ago, they weren't.
This is where the opposing attorney will ask any question that you have to answer. Unlike court, depositions can have questions about you when you were 5 years old.
There are no rules in a deposition. Although unprofessional, the opposing attorney can scream at you, infer anything he/she wants and the only thing they cannot do is attack you physically. No matter what, you need to answer the question.
It is said the deponent never wins. That all depends. The opposing attorney is watching your body language. He is looking for your hot buttons. It needs to be remembered though, when I am deposed, I am looking for the same thing!
I have had depositions last three days and the opposing attorney actually went to a judge and said he still did not have enough time with me!
Most of these insurance defense attorneys from my experience are above board and will not deliberately try to ruin the expert's life, but there are two, one in California and one in Indiana that stepped way over the line surrendering any ethics in my opinion just to ruin me. Their job was to eliminate me as a threat.
For me, I am considered a trophy if my credibility can be successfully attacked. The insured will most likely never go through this.
There are two types of emotions for me in this field. I am either loved and respected or hated and feared. There is no middle ground. Insurance companies state they want an unbiased opinion about how a reported stolen vehicle was last operated and in some cases, this is true. Some say they want the expert to work for all sides, but the truth of the matter is it is career suicide to ever oppose an insurance company even if their expert can not possibly support his opinions.
You would think if an insurance attorney sees his expert can't support his opinions that he would push just to have the insurance company pay the claim. The truth of the matter is that the insurance defense attorney has to represent his client at the best of their ability and play the cards they were dealt, even if it means obfuscating the truth and use personal attacks or innuendo masqueraded as fact to take the opposing expert down.
Perception is what a case is all about. Can the insurance attorney twist statements deliberately and attempt to have criminal charges placed on the expert or the insured? If so, the attorney gets the reputation of taking the trophy away from ever being a threat again.
This was attempted with me and it cost me a 20 year marriage and almost my life. I am a fighter though and would not give into this. The attorney working for State Farm deliberately twisted the personal income of mine with gross corporate income making it appear as though I claimed $0 income when in fact it was stated I made $300,000. The experts I opposed also had this event on their website. They did not use my name, but they did not have to. The information on their website pointed only to one person and that would be me.
Here is how low an attorney will stoop that has no ethics: He asked if I had testified in court recently. I stated yes on a personal matter. He stated he knew. The day before this deposition I was in bankruptcy court filing for personal bankruptcy (not the corporation). My personal financial situation should be no one's business and the reason I filed was because of all the slander and libel used by the experts I had successfully opposed,costing me a majority of my insurance work.
The opposing attorney then asked me about my personal finances. I told him I could not testify on this matter because he needed to depose the book keeper and the accountant. That did not stop this goof! He went on for 15 pages in the deposition with this questioning which had nothing to do with my expertise on auto theft and vehicle fire.
Shortly after the deposition in May of 2007, my bankruptcy was discharged. At the same time one of my creditors received an anonymous letter stating that if anyone would contact Jack Kramer with his phone number on the deposition of Robert Painter (Klajajic v. State Farm) they would see beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed perjury and was withholding funds.
Interestingly enough, no one had purchased the transcript except for my client attorney and Jack Kramer's office (State Farm's defense attorney), so no one knew the contents of my testimony except for these attorneys at the time.
In September, another anonymous letter arrived stating that I had a clandestine lab and I bought tools and equipment personally which I was with holding from the court. Two problems here. The lab property address had been disclosed and I would never buy tools and equipment personally because I would not get a tax deduction.
The bankruptcy was reopened and I was under investigation (addressed on the site http://www.forensicauto.net (the insurance experts I commonly successfully oppose).
It was not until June of 2008 that the federal prosecutor deposing me finally realized what was being done here. In August of 2008 I was fully exonerated of charges and the case based on "alleged Allegations" was closed.
All this was done because they could not beat me on my training, background, experience and methodology and they tried to ruin not only my career and eliminate the compatation, but my personal existence!
Now, if insurance companies will do this to me, what do you think they will do to an innocent insured just to deny a claim?
The Full Scope of a Theft Claim
Many insurance companies play a numbers game. Deny 100% of all theft claims. Maybe 5% will contest the denial. The other 95% the insureds will just go away.
They may get hit millions on one claim, but that is already figured in. Look at the money they save by not paying out on the other 95%.
Not all insurance companies are this way, but I have found in my opinion, the larger carriers are.
Very recent case 12/2008
In a recent case in Oklahoma against Progressive, the claims people noted that the theft of a vehicle was transponder equipped. This automatically put the claim into question because the insurance personal are trained that these vehicles are "Unstealable."
They gathered negative personal information about the insured.
They had an oil analysis performed with the results stating there were trace amounts of sodium found which may indicate a coolant leak. Even the person doing the oil analysis contacted the insurance company stating that this event may not have been known by the insured.
In the insurance notes show however, it was listed that truck had a coolant leak inferring that the insured had engine problems.
This vehicle was a reposession when the insured purchased the vehicle. The insured received only one key. This vehicle requites a minimum of 2 programmed keys. We were missing at least one key plus the two factory originals!
I wrote a report addressing the key issue and the "trace" amounts of sodium in the engine oil.
It is so very common for insurance companies and experts to rely on oil analysis. There are so many things oil analysis won't show. This is only a primary tool telling someone that an engine tear down may be in order and yet it is relied on as the absolute factor revealing the condition of the engine or transmission.
I submitted my report to the client attorney. He submitted it to the insurance defense and the case settled immediately for an undisclosed amount.
Yeah, the experts state that settlement is just a business decision. I agree. The insurance company is convinced they cannot win in court or they would have continued to proceed!