One issue that has been coming up among PIP medical providers a lot lately with the prevalence of the coronavirus is whether insurance companies still have a right to require patients to attend an Examination Under Oath (EUO). The EUO requirement is codified in § 627.736(6)(g) of the Florida No-Fault Statute in 2012, and states the following: “An insured seeking benefits under ss. 627.730-627.7105, including an omnibus insured, must comply with the terms of the policy, which include, but are not limited to, submitting to an examination under oath. The scope of questioning during the examination under oath is limited to relevant information or information that could reasonably be expected to lead to relevant information. Compliance with this paragraph is a condition precedent to receiving benefits.”
Most of the time, the EUO is conducted in person. The PIP statute did not conceive of a time in which much of the population was quarantined due to a pandemic. Does this change the requirement for the insured to attend the EUO? There has been no case law on point, but the short answer is going to be no. An insured must still submit to an examination under oath if properly requested by the PIP insurer. Otherwise, the insurer will have a legitimate reason to deny the claim for PIP benefits.
One thing, the claimant can request is that the EUO be conducted telephonically, or by Zoom. While this is a reasonable request by the claimant, it is possible that the insurer could refuse to accommodate the claimant in doing so. In that case, it is unknown how the courts would decide. Courts are still conducting the majority of hearings telephonically and by Zoom. That would lend credence to the argument that the claimant is properly agreeing to submit to an EUO. There is no requirement in the PIP statute that the EUO be conducted in person. The more reason a claimant has to socially distance and quarantine, the more persuasive their case would be. For instance, if the claimant has underlying conditions, or is aged, their argument would be persuasive. Based on the plain language of the PIP statute and the absence of the requirement of requiring EUOs to be in person, we believe the courts would decide that any claimant has agreed to submit to an EUO if they have agreed on appearing virtually. We believe the courts would decide that the insurer has acted unreasonably and in bad faith by refusing to accommodate an individual who prefers to appear for the EUO virtually.
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