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Darroch, Donna W. and Ferguson, Melissa J. Examination Under Oath: Inquiry or Inquisition. The Insurance Committee For Arson Control. Annual Meeting, January 21, 1998.

Abstract: Insurance companies have the right to examine the insured under oath. This right is one of the most important tools insurance companies use to determine if the claim if fraudulent. In 1971, the Insurance Services Organization was formed and began a series of changes on the examination under oath clause. This article explains those changes and how they affect insurance companies.

The questions surrounding the clause usually include how, when, and where the examination should take place. For these questions the court uses the reasonableness test, which attempts to determine the intentions of the original contract.

The court also faces the question of whether previous fires can be admitted into evidence. The Balwanz court concluded that previous acts could be admitted because their evidence value outweighed potential prejudice.

Along with the examination under oath clause, most insurance companies include a records production clause in their contracts. This allows the insurers access to documents and information from the insured to conduct their investigation. The courts often are forced to decide what insurance companies may have access to. The insured argue that insurance companies attempt to conduct an inquisition into their personal and financial affairs. The obligation falls on the insurer to prove that the requested materials are relevant to the investigation. This article summarizes several court cases and explains how each decided to interpret the examination under oath clause.

For more information, contact:
Donna Darroch
State Farm Insurance Company
Phone: (404) 728-5400

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