Disability insurance companies use surveillance to try to catch disability claimants in lies. Medical records are not the only type of evidence that a disability insurance adjuster will look at. Disability claim representatives are trying to find out if you are telling the truth about your disabilities. They want to know if your restrictions and limitations are real. That is where surveillance comes into play.
2 Kinds of Surveillance
Surveillance comes in two forms. The first is what most people know – private investigators with cameras. Not just cameras like the one in the picture on this page. More investigators use video than still photography today. Smaller devices like GoPro cameras and even more discrete, cell phones, take very clear video.
The second type of surveillance is done from a desk…using a computer. Disability investigators and claims representatives troll social media sites looking for the worst kind of surveillance – pictures that claimants post of themselves. More on that below.
The 3 Most Common Times When Surveillance Video is Shot
There three times we see surveillance in our client’s claims is surrounding events that the insurance company knows about. Think about it…the disability adjuster has to know where you are going to be to have a private investigator go out to catch you on video. You may never realize that the person walking behind you at the grocery store is taking video of you the entire time you think they are watching a video on their phone.
Although these are not the only times when video surveillance can happen, there are three times when the disability insurance company knows or expects that you will leave your house:
1. When the disability insurance company schedules an exam with their doctor.
They know you are going to attend the appointment they set for you with the so-called “independent” doctor. They know where you will be and when you will be there. They typically will have a camera guy out the day before, the day of, and the day after your exam when they set you for an appointment.
2. When you send in forms telling them about your future appointments with your doctors.
Every time you tell them the date and time of an appointment with one of the doctors treating your disabling condition(s), you give the insurance company information about your whereabouts. You probably never thought about it that way, but you have given them part of your calendar. Expect to be watched when they know you are going out.
3. On your birthday….yes, your birthday.
Most people try to have fun on their birthday. Being disabled can be very depressing. You are very limited. You lost your livelihood. But who does not want to try to cheer themselves up? And your friends and family want to cheer you up. What better time to catch you having a good time than on your birthday. Again, expect a private investigator (or a team of private investigators) to be coming along for the party, as well as watching you when you the day before or the day after.
Social Media Surveillance…If you are online, expect it is happening.
If you have social media accounts – Facebook, Instagram, etc. – you are leaving low hanging fruit for the the disability insurance company. Unless you have mastered the privacy settings on your Facebook account (or whatever other social media you use)….and who has been able to do that?….there is some trace of you online.
Here is an example: Our firm recently had a person call us that had been terminated by her disability insurance company. In the course of investigating her claim, we discovered that the disability adjuster had cut off her benefits after finding some pictures of her running in a road race (a 5k). Our client’s daughter had posted them and tagged her. It sure looked like she was out running a race…while she was disabled! The disability insurer did not bother to ask about the pictures before they cut off her disability check. No, they just terminated her claim. However, once we spoke to our client, we found that the pictures were from two years before she became disabled! Was this good surveillance for the disability insurer? Of course, not. But we still had to fight for several months to get them to reverse their decision and start paying her disability claim again.
As we get claim file documents from disability insurance companies, we see more evidence of online surveillance. Even simple pictures of people laughing and looking happy online seems to lead some disability claim reps to doubt whether someone is disabled! Keep that in mind. Every time you post a picture online or let someone tag you, it could be the reason why your claim is denied or terminated.
Surveillance is all about making you look like a liar.
Disability insurance companies make more money when they do not pay claims. If they can find someone who looks like a fraud, they will cut them off. They will watch you to see if you are doing something different than what you told them you could do. Photos, video….and online snooping….they will watch you, and you will never know it.
To speak to one of our Disability Attorneys, call (866) 233-5044 or start a disability consultation online.