Insurance companies have the duty of investigating disability insurance claims. Most insurance claims are legitimate claims filed by truly disabled individuals. But the insurance company doesn’t want to pay out any more than they have to in claims. That is why they enlist the help of private investigators to gather photos and videos of claimants without their knowledge to use against them. Drones are now on the rise as a new way to gather information and decrease the costs of investigations.
Is Surveillance Legal?
Yes. In fact, it is very common for insurance companies to investigate claims, especially if they have high expected payouts. There are several types of surveillance, including background checks, internet, and social media surveillance. This is why it is important never to try to overdo it during daily activities, no matter how hard that may be. You never know when private investigators will be filming you. They can film you outside of your home and even follow you to the grocery store or gas station.
The Rise of Drone Usage
For years, insurance companies were using basic surveillance techniques like the classic man in the van, taking pictures outside of your home, and talking to your neighbors. But since 2015, insurance companies have been requesting the FAA’s approval to allow them to use UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to conduct surveillance on claimants. At first, they were used to examine large scale property damage like after hurricanes or tornadoes. Now they are using them to investigate smaller claims like bodily injuries. The use of drones still requires a person to be within the area of the place they are conducting surveillance but allows them to get a “closer look” without being noticed. Private investigators are now providing and marketing their drone services to insurance companies.
Drone Use Risk
While drone use is on the rise, some insurance companies are cautious. They worry about possible property damage to the claimant if a drone loses power, or “bad driving” causes the drone to crash, causing damage. There is also a question about privacy violations. While private investigators can use long lenses to acquire hard to reach shots, drones can fly right up to a claimant’s bedroom window capturing sensitive and inappropriate images that violate the privacies of the claimant and opening up the insurance company to a lawsuit if a claims specialist uses these images.
Protecting Yourself Against Drones
- Don’t overdo it. Always follow your doctor’s orders when it comes to managing your disability. If you are having a good day and need to take care of some light yard work, think again. A drone may be flying over your home without you even knowing it. The last thing you need in your claim process is a need to defend yourself because you carried heavy loads of trash to the can. This has always been the hardest directive for people to follow. When you feel good, you naturally want to get out and move. Just make sure your doctor has approved it, and you make a note in your journal.
- Keep a journal. Using a journal during the claims process to document your appointments and daily symptoms will help you combat any negative surveillance. The insurance companies are notorious for clipping only the most incriminating photos and videos to use against you. But if you have a log that shows what you were doing and why you were doing it, you will have a better defense.
- Hiring a disability attorney. The best way to combat the tricky insurance company tactics is to use an experienced disability attorney. Disability attorneys are well versed in privacy laws and know how to handle violations. As more insurance companies hire private investigators, there will be more regulations and court cases regarding how close a drone can get to your property without violating your privacy.
Staying proactive is the best way to establish a solid claim. The Ortiz Law Firm represents claimants through all stages of the appeal process, so it is never too early to consult with us. The Ortiz Law Firm offers a free consultation with no obligation to use our firm. During the call, you can ask any questions you have, and we will answer them. The Ortiz Law Firm has successfully represented people in disability cases across the United States. To see how we can help you win your long-term disability case, call us at (888) 321- 8131.