Surveillance and Disability Insurance Claims
Thursday, October 1st, 2020
In a perfect world, your disability claim would be processed quickly, a few questions will be asked and then benefits will start being paid seamlessly.
Unfortunately, that’s not the experience our clients often have. The people who contact our office every day are often frightened by the response from the insurance company to their disability claim, or are overwhelmed by the level of requests imposed to support their claim. Their disability has left them with lost income and mounting medical bills. The claim denial was not expected. What to do next?
Most people try to manage the appeal process for a denied or terminated claim on their own. That’s almost always a mistake. The average person going up against a large insurance company with an army of attorneys, claims adjusters, investigators, third party claims managers, etc. is not a recipe for success. It’s not a level playing field, and the odds are stacked against you.
Your disability insurance policy is a legally a binding contract, with many different provisions that address the conditions of the relationship between you and the insurance company. More than a few of those provisions include how the disability insurance company is permitted to confirm your disability. That often includes surveillance, which takes many shapes.
The old school image of a private investigator inside a parked car or an unmarked van parked for several days near your home has been replaced by a vehicle equipped with a video camera so small that you can’t even see it unless you know it’s in the vehicle. A new mobile phone app to get video footage of a person or a place replaces even the car: you order up the person, place or thing you want video footage of, and the app matches you with someone in that area. The cost of a freelance video is even less than parking a car nearby.
Privacy laws still do not permit anyone to record you when you are inside your home, but once you step outside the door, there should be no expectation of privacy once you have filed a disability claim.
If your neighbor is on this app, or simply agrees to livestream video to an insurance company representative, your claim is at risk.
How can you protect yourself?
We recommend that you call our office at 877-583-2524 to learn how our disability law practice helps claimants who are worried about protecting their claim and their families.
If you leave the house, we recommend keeping a detailed journal of when you come and go, and why, so you have more than a vague memory of your appointments. This is very important, especially if you go to a number of doctor or treatment visits. We have represented claimants who were prescribed physical therapy and were accused of being well enough to go to a gym, when their musculoskeletal conditions were brutally painful.
Finally, if you think that someone is videotaping you, don’t be confrontational. Anything that you say or do, like holding out a hand to block the person videotaping you, pushing them backwards or losing your temper, could be used as evidence against your disability claim. Turn away from the camera and walk slowly away from the person. If you know who the person is (like a neighbor), you may want to file a police report to document the fact that they were videotaping you without your granting permission. But above all, don’t engage with the person.
Remember that video cameras are practically everywhere: between anti-crime cameras on streets and storefronts, video cameras integrated into doorbells and home security systems and the ever present cell phone, any of your actions outside of your home are potentially subject to being videotaped. When you are on claim, you need to be aware of your actions and how they can be deliberately misinterpreted by the disability insurance company.
If you have any concerns, call our office at 877-583-2524. The call and the consultation are free.