When disability claims are filed with insurance companies, the investigation of your claim may often involve the hiring of an investigator to surveil you to verify whether you are truly disabled and entitled to the benefits of your insurance policy. Many people are surprised to learn that surveillance has occurred and their activities are now recorded. While it can be scary to think that an insurance company is paying someone to follow you around after you have filed a disability claim, the reality is that this type of surveillance is usually legal and can happen at any point during the claims process.
Understanding, however, what this surveillance typically entails can be helpful in:
- Assuaging your anxieties and concerns.
- Understanding what types of missteps or actions could jeopardize your claim.
- Protecting your rights and claim to benefits.
The Facts about Disability Insurers’ Surveillance Tactics
- When surveillance is usually conducted – Long term disability insurance companies can surveil claimants at any point during the claims process. In general, surveillance tends to be conducted:
- Routinely when a claim is initially filed – This can be standard for some providers.
- After your claim has been approved, especially if the definition of disability found in your policy is about to change.
- In your neighborhood. Yes, a disguised vehicle and camera could be pointed at your house!!.
- When the insurer knows where you will be, so that it does not waste money on an investigator simply waiting for you to leave your home. For instance, insurers will often request surveillance after it has scheduled what is often called an “independent medical examination” – which of course is anything but independent. (The insurance company will know exactly where you will be at a specific time, on a specific day). It is a favorite tactic of some companies to have the person surveilled the day before the exam, the day of, and the day following.
- The Newest Tactic. Insurance companies are now hiring investigation firms to conduct surveillance via a stationary camera. This device might be set up to constantly record over a period of days, dramatically reducing the cost of having a live human sit there with a camera at the ready. In our opinion, this tactic is risky and would be perceived by a judge or a jury as highly inappropriate. There may be some legitimate violation of privacy issues if the camera is directed at an uncovered window or a door which opens, allowing activity inside the house to be recorded. We believe that would be improper and a violation of some states’ privacy laws.
- The frequency of surveillance – This can vary from claim to claim, as well as from insurer to insurer. The real takeaway here is that surveillance can happen more than one time. So, don’t assume that you are in the clear or out of the woods just yet even if you have already been surveilled by an insurer.
- Signs of surveillance – An insurance investigator conducting surveillance cannot trespass on private property to watch you, but can monitor you or record your actions from public property – so long as you are in public sight. In light of this, some warning signs that you may be under an insurer’s surveillance can include:
- An unrecognized vehicle remaining parked outside of your home.
- Strangers suddenly appearing in your neighborhood, especially around your home.
- Unplanned visitors to your home.
- Someone following you into a grocery store or restaurant with a camera hidden in a bag.
- Mistakes to avoid when being surveilled – One of the main reasons insurers surveil claimants is to find “evidence” that can be used against them to deny the claim. And one of the more common ways this happens is when claimants violate doctors’ orders or engage in activities that, given their impairment, would not be feasible or safe. So, the takeaway here is to strictly abide by doctors’ orders and avoid doing anything that could make it seem as though you were not disabled (or as severely disabled as you have claimed).
- But don’t be too afraid of surveillance. Live your life, even if you are disabled. You do not need to be bedridden to qualify for benefits. You simply have to meet the applicable definition of disability. Going out in public does not disqualify you from receiving your policy benefits. But be mindful of your outdoor activities.
You Can Trust a Colorado Disability Lawyer at McDermott Law, LLC
Has your short or long-term disability insurance claim been delayed or denied? If so, you can turn to Colorado Disability Lawyer Shawn E. McDermott for experience in standing up to insurers and help in obtaining the benefits you likely deserve.
From our offices in Denver, we provide the highest quality legal services to disabled people throughout the state of Colorado, the surrounding states and even nationwide.