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How To Use EUOs Effectively - 5 Takeways

August 10, 2022

(1) Coverage Question?
If it seems like a tough coverage question, it’s best to obtain an EUO. Recorded statements are almost always a good idea, so if you can obtain one, go for it. But, when the facts present a more difficult coverage question, it’s best to seek an EUO where an experienced lawyer can help you navigate the legal nuances involved. Whether it’s a golf cart, a kit car, a work vehicle, a young driver away at school, or an event that just doesn’t seem to arise out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of the vehicle (e.g., tailgating-related accident, injuries from a fist-fight inside the vehicle, or injuries from using mobile gym equipment mounted to a vehicle), we can help you.

(2) Ask the Right Questions
Whether you obtain an EUO or take a recorded statement, be prepared to ask the right questions. In preparation for conducting an EUO or a recorded statement, review the claim file and determine what issues need to be resolved. This will help guide you in formulating the right list of questions to ask. During the EUO, listen carefully to the insured’s responses and ask the proper follow-up questions. For example, if an insured tells you she was traveling to a job site or work meeting at the time of the accident, follow up with questions to confirm whether she was on the clock, how often she uses her vehicle in the course and scope of her employment, and so on.

(3) BOLO for "Regular Use"
Be on the lookout for potential issues relating to “regular use.” Some of the most common examples of situations where a vehicle’s regular use may need to be fleshed out include: (1) occasional or incidental use versus frequent or regular use; (2) vehicles not owned by the named insured but instead owned by a family member living in the named insured’s household; (3) vehicles used for work; and (4) repairs and total losses. In these instances, ask questions such as who the primary driver of the vehicle is, who maintains keys to the vehicle, whether permission is needed to drive the vehicle, who oversees vehicle maintenance and costs, etc.

(4) Determining a Person's Residence
There are several factors to consider in determining a person’s residence. Under Florida law, a person’s residence is their place of abode (i.e., typically where they sleep each night) and can be permanent or temporary; and a resident is generally a person who lives at a place with no present intention of removing themselves from that place (i.e., no plans to permanently move elsewhere or leave the household altogether). When this issue arises, try to determine where the person receives mail, the longest amount of consecutive nights the person has stayed overnight at the location, whether the person has his/her/their own bedroom at the location, whether he/she/they have any intention of moving and when, etc.

(5) Named Insured's "Household"
When determining residency, you also need to consider whether the alleged resident is a member of the named insured’s “household” – Florida courts have established that aside from living under the same roof as a named insured, a person must also meet other requirements in order to be considered a resident of the named insured’s household. This includes: (1) having close ties of kinship with the named insured; (2) living in a fixed dwelling unit; and (3) having enjoyment of each part of the living facilities that the named insured also enjoys. Here, consider questions regarding whether all of the residents do any activities together (e.g., eat meals, grocery shop, watch television), whether the insured has full access to the entire house or only certain rooms/areas, and whether the insured freely allows others to enter into his/her/their part of the residence.

If you have any questions on the tips above, please contact Michael Clarke, Sebastian Mejia or Ryan Elias.

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