Our last post discussed why an insurance company might want to conduct a field visit or field interview. Now that you know what the insurer is trying to accomplish, we’ll discuss what exactly to expect before the interview, during the interview, and afterwards. As with many aspects of the claims process, the field interview will be different depending on whether or not you have a disability insurance attorney involved. First, what to expect before and during the interview:
Setting Up the Field Interview
Initially, the field representative will call or e-mail you personally to set up a time to meet. He or she will ask to come to your home, or sometimes your office (particularly if you have been practicing as a dentist or physician), and talk one-on-one. If you’re being represented by a disability insurance lawyer, the field representative will call or write a letter to the lawyer’s office to request a field interview. Your attorney will evaluate whether the in-person interview is necessary and appropriate under the terms of your policy and your particular claim situation. If so, your attorney will likely ask the field interviewer to meet at the attorney’s office, rather than in your home or office. Your attorney, and sometimes an assistant as well, will attend the interview. The attorney and/or his or her assistant will take careful notes of the entire conversation.
During the Field Interview
When the representative arrives, he or she may ask to take your photograph. The representative may also ask to audio-record your conversation. If an attorney is present, the representative will usually refrain from asking to take a photograph or audio-record the conversation, knowing that your legal counsel will likely determine it unnecessary and/or inappropriate.
The field representative will sit down and talk with you for an hour or more. He or she will have an extensive list of questions to ask you, most of which your claims analyst will have specifically requested the representative address. For those with legal representation, your attorney will have prepared you for each of the questions the representative will ask, so you’ll be ready to give accurate and well-considered answers.
During your conversation, the representative will be very warm and friendly. The representative will normally try to establish a rapport so that you’ll relax and talk openly. He or she will try to get you to talk without thinking, encourage you to go into unnecessary detail, and may ask personal questions that a claims adjuster would normally avoid.
The representative often acts somewhat more reserved when an attorney is present. Field representatives know that if they ask any questions that are irrelevant, seek confidential information, or are otherwise inappropriate, your attorney will intervene and let you and the representative know that you don’t need to answer the question.
While you’re talking, the field interviewer will take copious notes. These notes will include the interviewer’s own observations about your appearance, how well you move, how long you were able to sit or stand, what your house looks like (if in your home), and whether you seem nervous or not. If your attorney attends, the representative will know that his or her notes will be compared against the attorney’s, so he or she will be especially careful to document the circumstances accurately.
In our next post, we’ll talk about what happens after the field interview ends.