If you have ever found yourself looking over your shoulder with the feeling that someone was watching, you may have been right. The odds go up that you have been under surveillance if you have ever filed an insurance claim, especially one that was questioned by the insurer.
Why Insurance Surveillance?
The FBI estimates that insurance fraud in the United States costs insurance companies $40 billion each year and adds $400 or more to a family’s insurance premiums. Diversions of premiums and insurance company assets, churned commissions, and falsified claims make up the bulk of the losses.
Increasingly, insurance companies are turning to surveillance as a tool to eliminate fraud. As a result, legitimate claimants may turn to an attorney for advice when they discover or suspect that they are under surveillance.
Surveillance in Today’s World
Claimants should never assume that the insurance company is not watching. Insurance surveillance employs a variety of techniques, including:
- Stationary Surveillance – The old-fashioned stakeout is still in use. One, or multiple, investigators watch, photograph or record the claimant’s activities to detect inconsistencies in statements made to the insurer.
- Technical Monitoring – Video and sound recording devices are positioned in places a claimant visits to detect any deviations from the claimant’s statements.
- Drone Technology – A combination of stationary and technical surveillance, drones hovering near or overhead can be used to capture images and track a claimant’s movements.
- Location Tracking – This can be done by physically following a person, but digital innovation has introduced GPS technology to the world of surveillance.
- Social Media Monitoring – Investigators may monitor not only what is posted by a claimant on social media but also how frequently they post as an indicator of a claimant’s ability to function in the world on a daily basis.
- Field Visits – Investigators may pose as insurance company field agents. Unsuspecting claimants may allow them to enter their homes without realizing that their purpose is to gather damaging information.
The best rule of thumb is that if an insurance company has questioned a claim, there is a reasonable likelihood that someone is watching.
“The U.S. Constitution and various state laws establish that everyone has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Insurance investigators are not above the law,” said James Johnson. ESQ, Johnson Attorneys Group. “Skilled legal representation is one of the best ways, to avoid intrusive and unnecessary surveillance. As an intermediary between the claimant and insurance company, an attorney can help ensure that insurance investigators comply with the law and do not violate clients’ rights to privacy.”
Working With Your Insurance Company
Insurance fraud affects everyone who pays premiums. The National Insurance Crime Bureau encourages insurance consumers to be informed and to keep in mind that insurance companies have an interest in paying honest claims and a responsibility to avoid fraudulent ones.
“A skilled attorney can work to ensure that the claimant’s rights are protected while satisfying the insurance company needs for documentation. Honest interactions and reasonable exchange of information can go a long ways toward reducing the tendency of companies to place legitimate claimants under surveillance,” said Johnson.