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ISSUE 59, SEPTEMBER 2015

ASK A LAWYER:

Insurance Companies &

Surveillance

Q:

Do insurance companies really use private

investigators and other forms of surveillance to

disprove claims?

A:

Surveillance requested by an insurance company

and carried out by a licensed private investigator

is permitted. However, there are certain ethical

rules that they must follow. If you feel that you are

being followed in a threatening manner, then you

can report it to the police who may confront the

investigator and advise them to move on.

The surveillance technique is frequently used

in high benefit cases, or where claimants allege

disability based upon either subjective type

conditions or where the objective support is not

indicative of the restrictions or limitations. In

high benefit claims, the insurer is willing to invest

significant money to terminate or deny a potentially

expensive claim. Claimants must be wary not only

of their activity levels while on claim, but of any

statements made to the insurer about their daily

activities. Inconsistencies can be fatal to a claim: the

expression “a picture is worth a thousand words”

holds very true with regard to surveillance.

Q:

Can insurance companies view my social media

pages as part of their surveillance techniques?

A:

Those who have profiles on Facebook, MySpace,

Twitter or other social networks, and who are

involved in litigation, should be forewarned that

insurance companies have begun to employ the

Internet as part of their surveillance techniques.

DID YOU KNOW?

Most of us associate surveillance with some sort

of law enforcement effort, but over the years,

insurance companies have relied on surveillance to

help them defeat specific claims. You’re probably

wondering whether or not the insurance company

has the right to do this in the first place? As unfair

as it sounds, the law does allow them to engage in

limited surveillance. An insurance company may

shoot video, take audio or take still photographs

of person anytime they are in a public setting. This

includes common activities like going out to eat or

going out for a walk. These investigations cannot

involve trespassing on private property or any

interception of electronic communications.

Sounds pretty scary, right? Don’t worry, below is a

list of things to keep in mind if you think you might

be under surveillance by your insurance company.

IMMEDIATELY ADVISE YOUR LAWYER

If you believe you are under surveillance, you

should immediately advise your lawyer. You should

call the police if you feel threatened. Do not

exaggerate your limitations for the camera. Do not

get angry or confrontational with the investigator.

Insurance companies routinely conduct a detailed

investigation on a claimant’s background. They do

this by hiring an investigation company to collect

evidence for them. You may be videotaped and your

neighbours and co-workers may be interviewed

about your background, activities and injuries.

Claimants and witnesses cannot be threatened, and

the investigator cannot defame the claimant.

With respect to video surveillance, your insurance

company’s investigator will typically park a

surveillance van near your house and videotape

your activities. The investigator is permitted to

follow your movements, whether you are on foot or

in your vehicle.

SP

Surveillance and the Law: Is

SomeoneWatching You?

Always #AskALawyer if you have disibility law questions!

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