An Inside Look at Insurer Surveillance

Insurers often spy on insureds in an attempt to “catch” them appearing non-disabled. Traditionally, insurers have hired private investigators to videotape insureds in their daily routines. More recently, disability insurers have begun to use Facebook and other social media as a one-way mirror for electronically peeping into an insured’s private life. Old-fashioned stakeouts and video surveillance are alive and well, however. Because it is so easy to misconstrue even a few seconds of video footage, all insureds need to be aware of the possibility for surveillance.

A recent article written by the insurance industry and aimed at insurers exposes the way insurers regard surveillance. Though the article cites a private investigator as saying that surveillance is the “unbiased documentation of a person’s activities,” the reality is anything but. Disability insurers will hire PIs to watch a claimant for days, and then purport that a single fifteen-second clip of the insured watering his outdoor plants, for example, is evidence of a fraudulent claim. They fail to understand the reality: Disability means unable to perform occupational duties, not absolute and perpetual helplessness. What does the insurer do with this video evidence? In their own words, “[impeach] the claimant, ultimately minimizing the value of his claim.”

Even if your insurer has obtained video surveillance, an experienced disability insurance attorney can place the video in its proper context—not just the five second clip that the insurer wants to show. Surveillance is another reason why it is important to consult with an attorney should you need to file a disability insurance claim.