The Florida Supreme Court ruled that prior to a 2012 state law, auto insurer Geico didn’t have the right to force a policyholder to answer questions under oath before paying a personal injury protection (PIP) benefits claim.
The ruling applies to a 2008 case in which the insurance company didn’t pay a claim submitted by Merly Nunez, who challenged a provision in her policy that stated she must submit to an examination under oath if requested.
Since then, Gov. Rick Scott has signed a bill into law that states insurance companies can require policyholders to submit to interviews by the company’s insurance adjusters or lawyers.
But the court said the 2012 law isn’t retroactive and doesn’t apply to this case. It didn’t address the applicability of the new law.
Insurers were disappointed in the ruling.
“Insurers have relied on the discretionary use of examinations under oath (EUOs) in appropriate cases to obtain relevant, needed information not only for the assessment of claimed losses, but for the prevention of fraud and abuse of the PIP system,” said Donovan Brown, Florida counsel and regional manager for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI. “This ruling is another blow to Florida’s consumers in the fight against PIP fraud because the ruling further exposes consumers to the rampant PIP fraud that has plagued the Florida auto insurance system for far too long.”
The case is Merly Nunez vs. Geico General Insurance Co.