A Video Explaining the False Swearing Defense to an Insurance Claim

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FALSE SWEARING

See the full video at  https://youtu.be/HzbP3Nqdmi4

In common language the “false swearing” provision of an insurance policy merely means that if the insured lies under oath the policy is void whether the lie is in a proof of loss or at an examination under oath. In Texas and Oklahoma, false swearing is explained this way:

Where an insured knowingly and willfully overestimates the value of property destroyed or damaged, the policy is voided and the insured’s right to recover is defeated.

The reason for the false swearing defense can be explained because it would be unjust to allow a claimant to misrepresent facts under oath that might lead to a valid defense and then allow him to escape the consequences of the falsehood simply because he had succeeded so well that the company was unable to establish the defense.

The Mississippi Supreme Court explained the reason for the “false swearing” defense that “[i]t would be unjust to allow a claimant to misrepresent facts which might lead to a valid defense and then to allow him to escape the consequences of the falsehood simply because he had succeeded so well that the company was unable to establish the defense,” Edmiston v. Schellenger, 343 So. 2d 465, 467 (Miss. 1977), cited with approval in Duke v. Hartford Fire Insurance Co., 617 F.2d 509, 510 (8th Cir. 1980) (per curiam) (applying Arkansas law).

False swearing is a crime in all states. An insured that is guilty of false swearing is subject to the possibility of criminal liability. The person swearing falsely also destroys the right to recover under a policy of insurance.

An insurer can assert false swearing as an affirmative defense to an action brought by an insured. To constitute such a defense, the false statement must have been made under oath with the knowledge that it is false and with the intent that the person to whom the statement is made will rely on it. Actual reliance is not necessary. To support a defense to a claim or a suit on a policy, the statement must be: false; and material to the claim.

Almost every policy that insures against the risk of loss of property requires the insured to submit a sworn proof of loss. The proof of loss must provide complete details regarding the property insured, the origin of the loss, and the value of the property claimed destroyed. A policy usually also requires the insured to give the insurer access to books and records to prove the claim. Where fraud is suspected, the insurer may demand that the insured be examined under oath. Significant deviations between the sworn proof of loss and the facts developed at an examination under oath can be the basis of a defense of fraud or false swearing. If false swearing is found to exist, it will normally constitute a complete defense to any claim under a property insurance policy.


© 2020 – Barry Zalma

Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice to service as an insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims handling, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud almost equally for insurers and policyholders. He also serves as an arbitrator or mediator for insurance related disputes. He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and claims handling lawyer and more than 52 years in the insurance business. He is available at http://www.zalma.com and zalma@zalma.com.

Mr. Zalma is the first recipient of the first annual Claims Magazine/ACE Legend Award.

Over the last 53 years Barry Zalma has dedicated his life to insurance, insurance claims and the need to defeat insurance fraud. He has created the following library of books and other materials to make it possible for insurers and their claims staff to become insurance claims professionals.

Go to Barry Zalma videos at Rumble.com at https://rumble.com/c/c-262921

Read posts from Barry Zalma at https://parler.com/profile/Zalma/posts

Listen to the Podcast: Zalma on Insurance https://anchor.fm/dashboard/episodes Zalma on Insurance

Go to Barry Zalma on YouTube- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCysiZklEtxZsSF9DfC0Expg/

Go to the Insurance Claims Library –https://zalma.com/blog/insurance-claims-library/

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