Insurance Surveillance: When to Worry About It and How To Detect It

by Faye Counts
(Maryland)

How can I detect whether or not the insurance company is using surveillance on me? I’m tired of looking over my shoulder everywhere I go. Anonymous, USA


There is no reason to be so worried about potential insurance surveillance unless you are not really hurt, or are exaggerating your personal injury claim, or have told the insurance company that your injury prevents you from doing something that you really are doing. If that is the case, your guilty conscience is going to make you see surveillance vans everywhere. If you are truly hurt and your injury does impact your daily activities, the surveillance will only serve to document that for you at the insurance company’s expense.

Surveillance is not done in every personal injury claim. The insurance adjuster handling your claim does not do surveillance; he or she has to hire a private investigator to do it, and they are not cheap. Therefore, it does not make financial sense to hire surveillance on a personal injury case unless the adjuster has some reason to believe that you are faking your injury or exaggerating the limitations it places on you. Even then, the potential value of your claim has to be high enough for it to warrant spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a private investigator who might or might not catch you doing something you shouldn’t.

Surveillance is not usually done immediately after an accident because there hasn’t been enough time for the claim to raise any questions in the eyes of the insurance company, unless fraud indicators exist. We usually see surveillance requested on claims where the injuries linger on longer than what might normally be expected. For example, a whiplash type of injury (sore neck and back) that lasts for a couple of years and causes the injured person to miss work even though diagnostic tests find no reason for continuing complaints might be a good candidate for surveillance.

That being said, surveillance is usually done from or based out of a vehicle. It would be one that you have not seen in your neighborhood before. If you are working out at the gym, there could be a camera in a duffel bag brought in by another member that you haven’t seen before. Unless you leave your blinds open for the whole world to watch you working out in your home gym, surveillance cannot be done inside your home as that would be generally be considered an invasion of privacy.

If you think that you are being watched by the insurance company that you are making a personal injury claim against, you can always ask. The adjuster is not obligated to tell you whether or not surveillance is being done, but he or she will probably ask why you are worried about it.

This article is written for informational purposes and is not intended to take the place of competent local legal counsel.

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