All property insurance policies require that the insured cooperate with the insurer during the claim adjustment process. This allows the insurer to fully investigate the claim and gather all of the facts.
Following Hurricane Isaac a few years ago, I represented a real estate investor who’s commercial building sustained significant roof and other damages. The flat roof was several thousand feet in size, and most of it actually peeled off during the Hurricane’s high winds. This caused a significant amount of rain water to make its way into the building, damaging sheet rock, ceiling tiles, insulation, flooring, and more. Yet the insurance adjustment only included replacing 25% of the obviously devastated roof.
My client worked with the insurance carrier to see about obtaining a supplement. After weeks and weeks of making no progress, he hired me to represent him. In turn, I dispatched an independent insurance adjuster and commercial contractor to properly scope the loss and document all of the damages. We submitted all of this documentation to the carrier, and even met with an engineer who took a core sample of the roof. Yet, no supplement was forthcoming.
The insurance carrier requested that my client submit to an examination under oath, or EUO. Part of cooperating with the insurer during the claims process includes submitting to an EUO if requested. If the insured does not submit to the EUO, he or she runs the risk of having his claim denied entirely. So of course I recommended that my client submit to the EUO, which is similar to a deposition. There is a court reporter in the room, and the insurance company’s attorney asks the insured questions about the building’s history, previous damage claims, current damage, etc. Also, it is usually a good idea for the insured to have an attorney there to make objections and make sure all of the relevant facts are disclosed. A redacted copy of my client’s EUO transcript is available here.
Fortunately, this part of the process worked fine. Not long after the EUO was taken, the insurance carrier made a supplemental payment to pay for the remainder of the roof replacement. My client’s honest testimony, together with the reports I submitted and further negotiation made clear that the roof needed to be replaced.
Unfortunately, though, many other disputed interior items remained. Accordingly, I filed suit in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court. A copy of the suit is available here. After several months of litigation, the case was successfully settled.