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Insurance company surveillance tactics can make you feel like a criminal, even though you’ve done nothing wrong. During a long-term disability (LTD) claim, the company might hire investigators to monitor your behavior, looking for ways to discredit your credibility. Learn how to protect your privacy during an LTD claim below.
Insurance Companies Look for Evidence of LTD Fraud (Real or Imagined)
There are people who fraudulently file for disability insurance benefits. Because of this, insurance companies study claims, looking for data that suggests the person is lying or trying to work the system. Where there’s evidence of fraud, it’s understandable that the insurance company would hire a private investigator. It’s important to stamp-out fraud. Honest claimants are hurt by the small number of people who file bogus claims.
However, some insurance adjusters assume that everyone is lying, regardless of the facts. They use surveillance to monitor and to harass honest people who file claims — searching for anything that can give them an excuse to deny a claim or terminate a claim.
Learn How to Identify Common Forms of Surveillance
Insurance company surveillance tactics are increasingly sophisticated. Investigators can monitor you in real life and search your electronic footprint. Be on the lookout for:
- Digital surveillance: investigators can learn a lot about you from your social media accounts and electronic presence. They will monitor your posts and comments, looking for evidence that you’re functioning at a higher level than you claim.
- Stakeouts or fixed surveillance: an investigator monitors you for an extended period. Often this is for two to four days. Typically, an investigator (or team of investigators) watches you from a distance, taking photos or videos of your activity.
- Technical surveillance: an insurance company surveillance tactic where an investigator plants recording devices, such as cameras, near your home or other places you frequent. A human investigator does not sit and watch you.
- Tracking: an investigator follows you and tracks where you go and what you do. Sometimes, GPS tracking units are used instead of a human investigator.
- Drones: Privacy laws and privacy expectations vary by states regarding flying drones with cameras.
While you shouldn’t live in fear of insurance company surveillance tactics, be aware of your surroundings. If you notice an unfamiliar car parked near your home for an extended period, it might be an investigator. Similarly, if you feel like someone is following your, you might be right. Don’t be afraid to ask the person what s/he is doing parked on your street. Above-board investigators will not run and hide or act abrasive. When in doubt, call the police.
What Can I Do to Protect Myself?
So what can you do about it? You can’t hide inside with the curtains shut for the duration of your claim. Being disabled doesn’t mean that you have to completely stop living your life. Instead, follow these simple guidelines:
- Follow your doctor’s orders. If you’re not supposed to lift over 20 pounds, don’t pick up that 30-pound bag of dog food — even on a good day. You can aggravate your condition and make it worse, and an investigator might argue that you can lift over 20 pounds when you told the insurance company you can’t.
- Don’t overshare on social media. We understand that social media seems like a part of normal life for many of us. However, during a disability claim keep your public posts to the minimum. You should never post pictures that make you appear healthier than you actually are. Just because you are having a better day than normal, there is no need to share it with the world. If you have an illness that “waxes and wanes” when you post only the good day photos that may get taken out of context.
- Turn up your privacy settings. Enough said.
- Stop accepting new “friends” and make your social media pages private: If you get a friend request from someone you don’t know, never accept it. Also lock your pages down and make them private, minimizing investigators’ access to your sites.
- Ask your friends and family to avoid posting information about you. Your friends and family could also open doors into your social media pages. Investigators will check your friends and family’s social media sites. Politely request they not tag you in their posts or post pictures of you at social events.
- Timing. If the insurance company schedules you for a medical exam, functional capacity evaluation or other appointment, expect that you will be under surveillance during the week before the exam and the week after.
Not All Insurance Surveillance Tactics Are Legal
The law limits insurance company surveillance tactics. An investigator typically cannot enter your property or monitor you where you have a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” This means they cannot photograph or video record your activities inside your home.
An investigator may monitor you in more public places. If you’re outside in your yard, grocery shopping, or at a doctor’s appointment an investigator may track or monitor your activities (in most circumstances) — even if you’re with your children. However, they cannot harass or intimidate you.
In some states, investigators cannot record audio without your permission. This is state law dependent.
If you’re concerned about insurance company surveillance tactics, it’s in your best interest to consult with an experienced LTD lawyer. A lawyer can help you understand their tactics and build a defense to any surveillance images or information they obtain. Often, surveillance doesn’t give the adjuster the full picture — and an experienced attorney can help fill in the missing information that proves your disability claim is valid.
If you feel as if you’re in imminent danger because of an investigator’s reckless or aggressive behavior, contact law enforcement.
Ask our Boston LTD Lawyer About Insurance Company Surveillance Tactics
Boston LTD attorney Jonathan M. Feigenbaum, Esquire helps clients defend themselves against improper insurance company surveillance tactics. If you have questions about your LTD claim, contact us today. All initial consultations are free.