SIU Investigations and EUOs
I apologize if there is overlap in some of my writings, but important points run together in different aspects. If you need protection in an auto theft investigation or an EUO, think twice about contacting an attorney at this stage of the game and call 1-866-490-1673 to see if I can be of assistance.
The SIU investigation can be very scary. In most cases you re dealing with ex-cops that believe no one (other than their vendors who walk on water and who can part the seas).
You will be asked for all sorts of personal information, from your cell phone records, to your bank records. You may think they have no right to this information, however policies are deliberately meant to be ambiguous stating you have to cooperate with the investigation, which means they can have anything they want.
If you do not supply them with requested information, your claim will be denied for non-cooperation.
The motivation of the SIU is to get you to resend the claim (drop the claim). If they don't have to pay they are happy and as far as they are concerned every auto theft claim is a fraud.
The investigator can lie to you, threaten criminal charges and anything else they can come up with to get you to drop the claim.
You may be told of witnesses that saw you last leaving the vehicle at the recovery site. You may hear they have video of your whereabouts at the time of the theft.
Look, if you had nothing to do with the theft, shut up, quit defending yourself and contacting me.
Many insureds are in a hole in these investigations and just keep on digging in an effort to prove their innocence. SIU doesn't car. You are guilty in their minds. Their job is to investigate, but their true job is to force the claim to be denied.
Depending on the company, SIU or the claims department denies the claim (technicality).
One's first thought is to get an attorney. Attorneys are inert in a civil investigation and have no way of protecting you.
Sure, they may confuse you in answering in a legal way, but their is no court action at the moment and there is nothing they can do for you but take your money!
Your attorney might be told the "facts" from the SIU indicating that if you don't walk away from the claim you will be prosecuted. That only is because the attorney believes the "Facts" supplied by the SIU are real.
Let's say the SIU tells the attorney "We have forensics that will prove the insured's key was used last." The attorney is gullible enough to believe this because he knows absolutely nothing about auto theft and forensics. In order to protect the client from criminal charges, it is his job to advise that he claim be dropped.
This is a common situation and because of the blatant ignorance on the attorneys part, even though doing what he has to do, has just done you a severe disservice!
Whenever the insurance company interjects fraud into their investigation, the investigation is compromised. Using forensics as one of their "facts" is a blatant fraud!
I know these auto theft investigations in and out. I have hundreds of hours of sworn testimony which gives me the ability to assist the insured as to how to answer questions honestly and the correct way either in interviews or the Examination Under Oath.
Examination Under Oath (EUO)
Te only difference in my opinion between a deposition and an EUO is that a deposition is part of a court action and an EUO is part of an investigation.
If you are not familiar with depositions, you really should not go there on your own without counseling from me. Otherwise, you are a lamb going to slaughter. You are being questioned by a very seasoned attorney. If you go alone without be prepared by me, basically it is going to a gun fight with a rock!
The attorney controls the situation (unless I prepped the client the night before). I have successfully opposed these people for 18 years. I know what they are going to do before they do it! I have worked for the carrier's defense and I have worked for the plaintiff (Insured), which makes me extremely effective in auto theft claims.
In fact, some of the questions at the EUO I addressed with my client before hand getting this response: "How did you know?" At one time, I supplied insurance companies with questions--lol
The EUO is the tail end of the investigation. It may be a couple weeks more before you find if they will pay or deny. However don't hold your breath hear. 99% when SIU is involved, the purpose is to build a circumstantial case against the insured for the purpose of denying the claim. You can bet they have done this and the EUO is meant to take anything you have said in the interview, the recorded statement, to turn your words around under sworn testimony.
Some again may feel they need an attorney. All the attorney can do is object to questioning, but you still have to answer, so what is the point other than to waste money?
Commonly you will be in a cubicle on the insurance company's turf (Intimidation factor) in front of the carrier's attorney, the investigator and a court reporter.
You will be giving "Sworn" testimony to the questions asked. Commonly, this is where the insured wants to defend themselves and just buries themselves deeper in the hole. Insurance companies expect this.
You may be asked anything and it may not relate to the claim.
What they don't expect is when I have coached and prepared the insured in advance. Statements they made previously are cleaned up. The answers, well they just don't expect.
In fact, I have too good in these situations advising my clients where the carrier had overwhelming evidence to link the insured to the theft, they were left with no option but to pay the claim!
Lawyers cannot prepare you the way I can. Lawyers know nothing about the subject and do what they do, practice the law. Actually, the use of an attorney in any part of a investigation is self defeating and just puts the insured in a deeper hole.
They may know the law. I will give them that, but they should also know their limitations as I do and stay out of something they know absolutely nothing about! Please remember, I am their consultant and go to guy when they have auto theft denial cases!
There is a time and place to defend yourself, but during the investigation is not one of those times!
If the claim is denied, I can do the same thing an attorney can do. I can send a demand for payment letter.
The difference is stark. The attorney will threaten to sue, which does not rattle carriers because instead of being limited to just one attorney, they have huge expensive law firms that network nation wide! The answer from the insurance company will be "Sue us!"
On the other hand, if I send a demand letter, the story may change a little differently. First all the major carriers know me on a corporate level. They know what I a capable of and they do not look at y demand letters like the would from some attorney.
I am nice enough to give them an outline of my strategy (that commonly is the "Oh Crap!" moment). The claim may be re-evaluated and paid. We may work on an amicable settlement. Of course there is always the possibility that I may have to sue them, but chances of the case ever reaching a courtroom are very very slim.
In the event it goes to court and I am representing my client under Power of Attorney, the defense has to way this very real dilemma--A non attorney prevailing over a seasoned defense firm. This would be a disaster and yet, although I can not argue the law, I can supply fact that the carrier interjected fraud into their fraud investigation.
It's a house of cards and I pull out the card that causes the investigation house of cards too come crashing in. This isn't intentional, but collateral damage because very commonly, they used fraud in their investigation.
SIUs have been warned for years and no one listened!
Rarely do I know every detail about one of these claims, and possibly I did get people committing fraud free of all this. I simply do not know. I do know I am very good at what I do and if the evidence does not support the claim that there was fraud, I say then Shut up and pay the claim!