Smile, You’re on Camera: Insurance Companies Use Surveillance to Monitor Claimants

The National Security Agency isn’t the only one spying on the public. Insurance companies often use surveillance to investigate disability claims.

While it may seem creepy, most surveillance practices, which include taking photos or video of activities outside the home, are legal and admissible in court. The rationale is that insurance companies are entitled to root out fraudulent claims.

Unfortunately, insurance companies also use surveillance to deny perfectly valid claims. In a 2009 case reported by ABC News, The Hartford attempted to discontinue disability insurance payments based on video footage of Jack “Rocky” Whitten eating salsa and chips at a local restaurant. The insurance company argued that the video captured by a private investigator proved that Whitten, who suffered a broken neck on the job and was declared permanently disabled by his doctors, was fit to perform “full time sedentary occupations.”

This is a clear example of an insurance company improperly overemphasizing the significance of surveillance images. Thanks to the assistance of a disability attorney and the negative press coverage, The Hartford ultimately reinstated Whitten’s benefits and paid him over $45,000 in past due payments.

As this case highlights, photos and video footage can be powerful tools for insurance companies. While they often do not tell the whole story, it can be difficult for claimants to rebut the evidence. So it’s best to assume that you are being watched.

Insurance companies are more likely to use surveillance footage to pressure unrepresented claimants to abandon their claims, even when the videos or photos are harmless. To ensure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled, it is advisable to consult with an experienced New York disability attorney at Michael Sepe, LLC.