Preparing Yourself for an Examination Under Oath

In Wisconsin, when you file a fire loss claim, water damage claim, or other property damage claim against your insurance company, your insurance policy most likely allows your insurer to take your examination under oath. What is an examination under oath, and why would you have to attend one if you were filing an insurance claim?

Fire loss claims, water damage claims, and property damage claims are costly propositions for Wisconsin insurers. Insurance companies pay millions of dollars a year out in these types of claims to homeowners and business owners in the Milwaukee area. Obviously, this is not good for the insurance companies bottom line. What do insurance companies do to combat paying these claims?

The insurers may look to either deny the claim based on policy defense, or, if they cannot, they look to mitigate their loss so they can pay a lesser amount to their insured. The examination under oath is a tool that allows them to explore and discover potential policy defenses that can allow insurers to avoid paying your claim. For example, if your vacation cottage up north had its pipes freeze and burst in the winter causing damage, your insurance policy may have a clause that requires certain actions in order to properly prepare it for the winter. If your insurer discovers that it can argue you did not act accordingly in an examination under oath, it may try to deny your claim.

Moreover, insurers can use the examination under oath to investigate and test the extent of the value of your claims. Take a situation in which your home or business experiences a large fire loss and all of the contents are destroyed. An insurer may want to explore what sort of contents were inside your home or business. You may be asked to provide pictures, videos, receipts, photographs or other evidence of the contents you lost in the fire. An insurer is entitled to gather this information, and it can make the claim proceed faster if you are able to provide it to substantiate your testimony in your examination.

Prior to attending an examination under oath in Wisconsin, it is a good idea to discuss your claim with an attorney. Chances are your insurer has some significant questions about your claim and may contest some aspect of your fire, water, or property damage. An attorney may have some additional insight regarding what the insurer is looking at if you are unsure. You do not need to go into your examination blind or unprepared. In your time of loss, the stakes are worth consulting an attorney. Most Milwaukee fire loss, water damage, or property damage attorneys will be willing to speak to you at no charge. Make sure you talk to one before taking this important step in regards to your claim.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christopher L. Strohbehn
Christopher Strohbehn joined the firm in 2002. He is known to work tirelessly as he helps clients through difficult situations. His even-tempered demeanor is of inestimable comfort in times of great uncertainty.

He has developed a diverse litigation practice that focuses on personal injury, commercial, civil, criminal and insurance coverage litigation. His strategic vision, affability and attention to detail allow him thrive in handling these complex cases that often overlap into multiple practice areas and venues.

Copyright Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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