Gary M. Kazin
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Insurance Companies Use Surveillance On Injured Workers

It is a rather simple fact: Individuals working in emergency services - police officers, firefighters, ambulance drivers - are at high risk of incurring mental trauma as a result of their profession. They are prone to develop PTSD, depression, anxiety, and related conditions that are lawfully covered by workers' compensation insurance.

Yet legal experts from around the world have found that insurance companies "are going to extreme lengths to investigate the authenticity of compensation claims" and that "some claimants are being followed for weeks, with hundreds of hours of surveillance footage and pages and pages of online activity in an attempt to disprove their suffering."

The tactics insurers use

In fact, insurers frequently use sophisticated means of surveillance to investigate individuals who have petitioned for workers' compensation. It is one of the industry's many open secrets.

Simply put, insurers want to pay out as little as possible. As such, it is in their interest to undermine claimants' claims, and they undertake rigorous investigations to do so. The tactics frequently used by insurance companies include:

  • Personal data and background searches
  • Recording all relevant meetings and interviews
  • Hiring private investigators to take pictures and videos of claimants away from work
  • Keeping track of claimants' medical status
  • Social media surveillance

This applies not just to emergency service workers, but employees across all industries - from construction workers to investment bankers.

Your Facebook profile can be used against you

A recent article in Insurance Journal, "How to Use Social Media, Surveillance to Catch Workers Compensation Lies" [sic], offers an insightful (if typo-ridden) look into how insurers approach surveillance.

The article notes that "a completed Facebook profile can contain up to 40 pieces of personal information" and that "investigators can use social media sites to document activities in which the injured may be involved. If there is a question as to the residence of an individual...through online research, the address can be determined and verified."

It is easy to see that workers' compensation claims quickly move from the workplace to the victim's own home.

What can be done?

As a result, insurers are exacerbating the very problems that workers' compensation insurance is meant to alleviate. Namely, victims of injury find themselves subjected to additional - and unnecessary - scrutiny and stress.

Many are calling for a review of how insurers process workers' compensation claims. In short, it has become evident that we need more forces watching the insurance companies themselves.

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