Monday, July 13, 2009

Second District Affirms Order Allowing Nationwide to Take EUO and Preserve Right to Deny Claim

In Hungerman v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Ins. Co. (2D08-2353), the Second District affirmed "the circuit court's determination that he must submit to an examination under oath, that he must produce records to Nationwide, and that Nationwide is entitled to reserve its rights under the applicable insurance policy."

The appellant made a claim for PIP benefits under a policy issued by Nationwide to the appellant's employer. Nationwide paid until the coverage was exhausted. At that point, Nationwide sought to take an examination under oath (EUO) to explore its potential liability under the uninsured motorist portion of the policy and to preserve its right to later deny the claim.

The appellant filed a declaratory action against Nationwide stating that since he had not yet filed a claim he was not required to submit to the EUO and challenging Nationwide's right to deny the claim.

The circuit "court determined that Hungerman was an 'insured driver' under the policy; that the policy provided, among other types of coverage, PIP and UM coverage; and that even in the absence of a separate written claim by Hungerman for UM coverage, the policy provisions obligated Hungerman to submit to an EUO and to produce records and permitted Nationwide to reserve its rights."

The Second District concluded "that the circuit court did not err in its interpretation of the policy language and its determination of Hungerman's obligations and Nationwide's rights under the policy. As to Hungerman's contention that Nationwide's conduct (seeking an EUO and medical records and reserving its rights) constituted harassment and was unauthorized, the record does not establish that Nationwide failed to abide by the reasonableness provisions set forth in its policy or that it engaged in unfair claim settlement practices. See §§ 624.155(1)(a)(1), 626.9541(1)(i), Fla. Stat. (2007). Accordingly, we affirm the final judgment in all respects."


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