Lester v. Allstate Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., No. 13-6070 (6th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
After a fire damaged her house, Lester filed a claim with Allstate. The company asked Lester and her husband to answer questions under oath. Lester responded that they would submit to examinations only if Allstate first showed them its investigative files. Allstate refused to turn over the files, stating that doing so “could jeopardize the integrity” of its inquiry. Allstate eventually gave Lester 10 days to schedule an examination, warning that, if she did not submit to an examination, it would deny the claim. Lester never responded, but sued the company. The district court granted Allstate summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, noting that the insurance policy requires Lester to “submit to examinations under oath” at Allstate’s request and that Tennessee law permits denial of a claim when the policyholder refuses to participate in an examination under oath. The company’s refusal to share its investigative files before examining her is reasonable and did not breach a duty of good faith. Tennessee presumes that failure to participate in an examination results in prejudice to the insurer, and makes it the policyholder’s burden to demonstrate that the company suffered no harm. Lester never introduced any evidence to rebut the presumption.