I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me…

Surveillance is a common tool insurance companies use to gather information about long-term disability claimants. It can feel creepy to know the insurer may scan through your Facebook posts, run a background check on you, or even hire an investigator to follow you. Here are some common types of surveillance used, and advice about surveillance for anyone on disability.

Three Common Types of Surveillance

An insurance company may use different kinds of surveillance depending on how much money it is willing to spend to investigate a claim, what kind of activity it expects to uncover, and the type of disability.

  1. Background check – This is a fairly inexpensive way to gather information on a claimant. A background check will reveal if any businesses are registered to the claimant, whether she has been involved in any lawsuits, and information on any traffic tickets or criminal history. This information is compared to information about the claimant’s reported limitations and checked for inconsistencies. For example, Jill’s doctor has limited her to driving no more than 30 minutes at a time, but she has numerous out-of-state speeding tickets.
  2. Social Media – Checking a claimant’s web presence and social media accounts is a popular and inexpensive way for insurance companies to see what a claimant’s activities are. Are you searching for work on LinkedIn? Are you posting pictures on Facebook of you doing activities that you’ve claimed you cannot do? These are things an insurance company can discover relatively easily by scrolling through your social media accounts.
  3. Private Investigator – Insurance companies may hire a private investigator to perform photo and/or video surveillance of you over a 1-3 day period. This usually only happens if the company is suspicious that you may be more active than you are representing to the insurer. The surveillance will generally be scheduled during a time when the insurer knows you will be leaving the house – for example, if the insurer sends you to an Independent Medical Evaluation.

What should I do? 

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to prevent surveillance in most circumstances. Since you cannot prevent it, the best advice is to not worry about it. Be accurate in how you portray your symptoms and your limitations to your insurance company. Follow your doctor’s recommendations. Don’t do activities you’re not supposed to do. Take care of yourself and go about your normal activities.

For your social media accounts, don’t erase anything from social media but do be careful about what you are sharing. People tend to downplay their symptoms and their lack of activity when they post on social media. A person might post the picture they took hiking with their dog, but not share online that they couldn’t get out of bed the next day because the hike increased their pain symptoms. Although social media can be a valuable social outlet for the disabled, just be careful not to create an online presence that does not match what your life is really like.

If you have further questions about surveillance and other ways your insurer is treating your long-term disability claim, please contact Kantor & Kantor, LLP to request a FREE consultation. We can be reached at (818) 886-2525 or via our online contact form.   Now try and get that 1980’s song out of your head.


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