If you’ve made a disability claim, it’s important to realize that your insurance company frequently hires private investigators to observe your activities and as well as review your online activity to assess whether you are being truthful with them about your inability to work.
This tactic of surveillance is not new, however, as a result of an increased number of claims arising from the impact of COVID 19, there can be little doubt that insurers will be looking at monitoring your activities to a greater degree.
You may notice that someone is perched in a vehicle on your Winnipeg street or perhaps they are clandestinely hiding close by as you attend to picking up groceries, but surveillance and investigation does not stop there. Over the past few years, as social media has taken hold in society, insurers have been able to more easily monitor claimants’ activities very cheaply by seeing what information is being posted through the various social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and many others. You can count on insurers finding whatever has been posted about you online, so proceed with caution regarding online activity while you’re making a disability claim.
As mentioned earlier, surveillance investigation is a tool that insurance companies have used for many years to determine the legitimacy of disability claims. The advent of the internet and the pervasive nature of the latest technology has eliminated privacy in many areas of our day-to-day activities. While social media helps to spread news and information about noble causes much more easily, it also makes spreading false information easier and it certainly assists insurance companies in getting access to information about you that they wouldn’t have been able to access so easily before social media existed.
Information that investigators capture can be inaccurate or they may even be obtaining surveillance video on the wrong person. We have seen this occur with greater frequency than you might think. For example, taking video of a neighbour with a similar appearance to you.
It is difficult to predict what a judge or a jury will do with surveillance evidence as it isn’t necessarily a foregone conclusion that evidence suggesting that you are more capable of working than your medical records suggest don’t always result in the case being lost, but overall, capturing evidence showing inconsistencies between your medical conditions and the level of activity you are engaged in can have very negative impacts on your case.
For a reported example of how the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal dealt with a disability case where extensive surveillance video was obtained to discredit the claim, have a look at decisions in Fernandes v. Penncorp Life Insurance Company, 2014 ONCA 615. A link to both the Trial and Appeal court decisionscan be found here and the original trial decision here.
While the case is interesting reading, it underscores the unpredictability of how surveillance evidence will be viewed by the Courts. Mr. Fernandes was ultimately successful, however, many other plaintiffs have fared poorly when such evidence is presented in court.
The case is worth reading purely to demonstrate the lengths and expense to which insurers will go to gather proof of fraud and although it backfired on the insurance company in this case, from time to time insurers gather compelling evidence that can stop a disability claim in its tracks.
The important point to stress about surveillance is that even though we are in the midst of a pandemic and people are focusing on social distancing, staying safe, getting kids back to school, and trying to have some semblance of a normal life, it may be harder to remember that for insurance companies, the business of denying disability claims is very much business as usual. If you are in the midst of a disability claim in Winnipeg remember to stay safe and do your part to keep the pandemic under control, but also remember that your insurance company may be watching.
If you have had your claim for long term disability denied in Winnipeg contact the long term disability insurance lawyers at Share Lawyers. Our experienced team of long term disability (LTD) lawyers can help. Toronto is home to the Share Lawyers office, but we have helped people all across Canada. We have recently settled cases against Canada Life, Desjardins, Manulife, RBC Insurance, Sun Life, and many more. We offer free consultations and there are no fees unless we win your case. Find out if you have a disability case.