Insurance Companies Surveillance
If your disability insurance benefits were denied due to invasive surveillance tactics by insurance companies, contact the disability lawyers at Edelstein Martin & Nelson to learn more about your rights.
Many of us pay into disability insurance thinking we are securing our future should anything ever go wrong. There are more than 9 million people in the United States that receive disability payments, and 86% of them are disabled workers. Unfortunately, insurance companies will do whatever they can to deny disability claims, even if it means paying thousands of dollars in surveillance tactics to justify their position that a claimant doesn’t qualify for the benefits they have paid faithfully to receive.
Insurances companies are businesses, and they view surveillance as a viable way to save money. Looking for reasons why a person should not receive benefits helps these big for-profit businesses deny more claims and therefore, increase their profit margins. But when they use surveillance as a justification to deny valid claims, they are engaging in bad faith practices.
Why Do Insurers Use Surveillance Tactics?
Simply put, insurance companies use surveillance to deny long term disability benefits to save themselves money. These companies spend millions of dollars annually to spy on those that need these benefits.
Unfortunately, these tactics often work. Each year, insurance companies deny thousands of long term disability claims based on evidence obtained during their surveillance, which saves the companies millions of dollars. Simply put, these large corporations do not have your best interests in mind. They have no problem denying legitimate claims if they think they can get away with it.
How Disability Insurance Companies Use Surveillance To Deny Disability Claims
The purpose of surveilling is to catch the claimant performing tasks that appear to conflict with documented injuries. For example, if someone claims their leg was crushed in a car accident and are then spotted running a marathon, it can be deduced that this person does not actually need long term disability benefits based on a crushed leg.
However, there are many people suffering with life-altering injuries that still force themselves to perform painful tasks because they don’t have a choice. Someone with a serious injury that makes movement difficult may still have to fight through the pain to go to the grocery store, for example.
A disabled person may still join a family trip to an amusement park, but spend much of the time sitting on a bench watching everyone else having a good time. An insurance company might send out a private investigator to follow this person and take video of them while at the amusement park to attempt to prove that their injuries are not that severe, and deny their disability claim.
Common Insurance Surveillance Tactics
Insurance companies have many ways of surveilling claimants to avoid paying their disability claim. Some are seemingly innocent, but some are invasive, leaving the subject of the surveillance feeling shamed and confused while still dealing with the pain and suffering associated with their disability. Here are some of the more common surveillance tactics used by insurance companies to deny claims:
Background checks are usually conducted by a third party investigator hired by the insurance company. The investigator will then give the insurance company a report that may include the following information:
- Where you live
- What kind of car you own
- Who you live with
- Any properties registered in your name
- Businesses belonging to you or your spouse
- Any active licenses and permits
- Criminal history
This information is usually just a starting point for investigators for further surveillance.
Video and Photographic Surveillance
This method is incredibly invasive, and it may involve an investigator staking outside your home for a few days with a camera hoping to catch you doing something they deem will invalidate your claim. The investigators may even follow you after you leave your home and record your activity at other locations.
Some of the things investigators are looking for include:
- Whether or not you appear to be moving with difficulty
- How long you remain outside of your home
- How many times you leave your home
- Whether you meet with friends or attend any social events
- What you carry with you when you leave the house
- Whether or not you drive, and how long you drive
- Where you go or places you frequent
- If you use an assistive device such as a cane or cast
- How you dress
An investigator will scrutinize everything you do in order to give an insurance company any reason to deny your claim.
Social Media Checks
Social media accounts, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn give investigators a free and easy way to look into your everyday life.
Insurance companies will latch onto anything that seemingly contradicts your long term disability claim, including anything you post on social media. Most people only post the good things on social media and avoid posting their struggles. According to psychologists, social media platforms give us a free place to share our thoughts, leading to oversharing, which can be harmful when it comes to disability insurance claims. Posting on social media could inadvertently give an insurance company a reason to assert that you have no health problems or pain. Even worse, if you have avoided posting about a major disability, they might take that to mean that you aren’t actually disabled.
General Internet Searches
The internet beyond social media can still provide insurance companies with a lot of information. A simple Google search of your name may bring up:
- Personal webpages
- Business webpages
- Personal blogs
- Comments you’ve left on other websites
- Photographs of you
- Articles or other content about you
If an investigator can find anything you have posted anywhere online that might damage your disability claim, they will attempt to use this against you. It is best to proceed with extreme caution with posting any type of content on the internet, including comments on websites or other people’s social media posts.
Is Surveillance Legal?
Generally speaking, it is completely legal for an insurance company to surveil you in any public place where you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy. This means they can follow you and photograph you anywhere, except inside your own home and in certain privately owned spaces.
You may have also signed an authorization without realizing it which grants permission to the insurance company to gather information about your claim. This might seem innocent when you read it on paper, but you may have just signed away your right to privacy in certain situations, allowing the insurance company to remain within their legal rights while conducting surveillance on you.
Even if you’ve signed an authorization though, investigators are not permitted to surveil you in private spaces. Most states have laws that give citizens a general right to privacy, and if an investigator gathers photos or videos of you inside your home, this is generally considered illegal activity.
If you have an active claim, be aware that any public space you go might put you at risk of being recorded by investigators and insurance companies.
Be Wary of Home Visits From Representatives
Insurance companies sometimes use field visits as a way to surveil you within your own home. This happens when a representative meets with you face-to-face to talk about your disability claim in your own home or workplace.
While it may seem these visits are simply to learn more about your claim, insurance companies often have other motives. They will use this time to see where you live, what you drive, how long you are able to sit, stand, or walk around, and whether you appear to suffering from loss of focus, concentration, or memory.
If you invite a representative into your home, you are waiving your right to privacy, and the insurance company can then legally use any information they gather while at your home against you.
If you feel you must have a field visit, it’s a good idea to seek representation from a disability attorney to be there with your during the visit and to speak on your behalf.
What Should You Do If You Think You Are Being Spied On By Your Insurance Company?
There is not a lot you can do to stop insurance surveillance, but there are ways you can safeguard yourself and prevent surveillance tactics from weakening your claim.
- Follow Your Doctor’s Advice. Listen to your doctor’s orders. If they have told you not to lift anything over ten pounds, don’t try to wrestle that 40 pound bag of dog food into the house. You may think you are capable of lifting more than what the doctor ordered, but if an insurance company finds out, it can cost you your ability to obtain disability benefits.
- Limit Social Media Posts. It is highly advisable to completely stay off social media while your claim in being processed and investigated. If that’s not possible, take care to limit what you post. Don’t discuss the accident or injuries that led to your claim, and don’t post any photos. This information could be misconstrued by insurance companies and used against you later. Also, avoid accepting new followers or friend requests unless you know the person very well and trust them completely. The insurance company or investigator may try to follow your profile so they can monitor you more closely. If you do remain on social media, set all your profiles to private, which will make it more difficult to spy on your social media presence.
- Ask Friends and Family Not to Post About You. Ask your family and friends to avoid talking about you, posting pictures of you, or tagging you in their social media posts. Investigators may search their social media accounts for damaging information about you. You can rest assured they will look at the social media profiles of anyone that is connected to you, especially close friends and family members.
- Know Your Rights. An investigator can surveil you in public places or if you are outside your home. However, you do not have to allow them into your home or onto your personal property. If they do not leave when asked and you feel unsafe, call 911.
- Hire an Experienced Disability Lawyer. One of the best ways to protect yourself is by contacting a disability lawyer from Edelstein Martin & Nelson. We can help you protect yourself from incriminating surveillance tactics and will fight with insurance companies on your behalf to help ensure you get the disability benefits you deserve.
What if Your Disability Claim is Wrongfully Denied?
Insurance companies are not looking out for your best interests. They are looking out for their own bottom line. They deny legitimate claims all the time, and if this happens to you, you may feel defeated and wonder what to do next. A denied claim is not the end of the road. You still have options including an appeal in most cases. If you are dealing with a disability claim denial, you should speak to one of the disability attorneys at Edelstein Martin & Nelson to determine what you should do next.
Hold On to Disability Records
If your claim has been wrongfully denied, you will have no choice but to fight back if you want a fair outcome. One of the best ways to prepare to do this is to hold onto any paperwork or records regarding your claim. This can mean copies of your insurance policy, notes from your doctor, and any correspondence between you and your insurer. These can provide valuable evidence when you are making your appeal.
Contact a Disability Lawyer Today
The attorneys at Edelstein Martin & Nelson understand the impact filing a disability claim can have on a person and their family. We also know the underhanded tactics insurance companies use to surveil you and attempt to deny your claim. If you’ve just filed your claim and are concerned about your rights, give us a call at 215-731-9900 for a free consultation.
If your claim was denied due to evidence collected via insurer surveillance, don’t lose hope. We can help you proceed with an appeal to get you the benefits you rightfully deserve. Our decades of experience in both disability claims and dealing with insurance companies will ensure you can rest easy. Let us fight for you. Contact us at the number above or send us a message today.