We have written in this space before about long-term disability insurance companies’ use of a variety of surveillance methods, including social-media monitoring, in the quest for evidence they can use to deny or terminate claims. The more serious and permanent the disability or the higher the salary of the claimant, the more expensive it will be for the company to pay out claims over time. Unfortunately, despite the contractual obligation to pay valid claims, LTD insurers are not often motivated to step up and pay claims without first making efforts to discredit claimants’ disabling impairments — and surveillance is a major part of those efforts.
LTD insurers use actual, physical surveillance methods like hiring private investigators who tail and document claimant activity at home and in the community as well as using drones to take videos and pictures.
PropertyCasualty360.com, a news source for those in the insurance industry, just published an eye-opening article about the use of social-media monitoring as a regular part of doing business. No one should file an LTD claim after reviewing this article and think that his or her Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts will not be part of the evidence used to decide whether his or her impairments prevent work.
There are companies that conduct Internet surveillance for LTD insurers and prepare reports targeted at claimant activity and information the insurer-clients can use to try to deny claims or terminate those already approved. So-called “curated social media background reports” have the stated purpose to detect claimant fraud and reduce costs, according to the article, as well as to improve “claims process efficiency and customer service satisfaction.”
It is hard to understand how having your insurer comb through your Facebook page enhances customer service. But this is reality and it behooves disability claimants to respond to this practice with smart posting practices.
A claimant’s attorney can provide guidance about how to manage social media accounts in a way that minimizes activity the insurer may try to use against him or her. Just because a disabled person can go to the store, attend a birthday party or walk the dog does not necessarily mean that he or she can go back to work. An experienced lawyer will know how to counter such surveillance evidence with other evidence such as statements of family members, friends or colleagues who have observed the claimant’s activity level and limitations over time.