The January 2013 edition of Sombrero, the publication of the Pima County Medical Society, features an article by Comitz | Beethe’s disability insurance attorneys, Edward O. Comitz and Karla Baker Thompson. The article, “Surveillance Misuse in Claims Investigations,” reviews some of the ways in which evolving technology has led to overly intrusive surveillance of claimants by insurance companies.
Among the surveillance techniques being utilized are stakeout operations, tailing (sometimes using a “decoy” investigator), pretexting (obtaining your personal information under false pretenses), and GPS and cell phone tracking. For example, some private investigators use a stingray, which is a cell phone tracking device that operates as a miniature cellular tower from inside of the PI’s vehicle. The device enables an investigator to connect to a claimant’s cell phone, even when it’s not in use, and, after taking measurements of the phone’s signal strength, triangulate its location. Since most people tend to carry their cell phones at all times, the device then allows the investigator to track the insured’s movements remotely.
The law surrounding some of these intrusive surveillance techniques, which have been made possible by modern technology, is not yet settled, and it is important that anyone on claim with their disability insurance carrier remain vigilant to the possibility of surveillance at all times, regardless of whether a human being is conducting the surveillance. Long gone are the days when surveillance was only conducted by someone with a camera sitting in a car outside an insured’s home.