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Surveillance, social media investigations, and tactics insurance companies use to deny disability insurance claims

Insurance companies often hire private investigators to find ways to deny or discontinue payment of disability insurance benefits. The tactics that big business uses to develop evidence seems to expand as technology changes. For years, insurance companies have sent investigators to conduct undercover surveillance stake outs, hoping to secure video evidence that a claimant is not really disabled, or is less injured than he or she claims. However, in a court ruling obtained several years ago by our firm, Skibbe v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., No. 05 C 3658, 2007 WL 2874035, at *11 n. 3 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 24, 2007), the court pointed out: 

The limited footage obtained by the surveillance videos and photographs was ultimately inconclusive because it did not prove that Skibbe was able to perform any job related activities on a daily basis or continue them for an extended period of time. See Osbun v. Auburn Foundry, Inc., 293 F.Supp.2d 863, 870 (N.D.Ind.2003); See also Mullally v. Boise Cascade Corp. Long Term Disability Plan, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 387, 2005 WL 66070, *7 (N.D.Ill.2005) (stating activities caught on tape only reveal that, for limited periods of time, a plaintiff was able to complete certain activities, but does not illustrate that she is able to work full time because it is easier for her to interrupt her activities when she is at home).

Thus, surveillance video has its limits.  In response, insurance companies today continue to look for new ways to obtain "gotcha" evidence to use against disabled people as a basis to stop paying or deny LTD insurance benefits claims. Drones have been used for stealthy access to the neighborhoods of claimants, although the use of that tactic raises privacy concerns. Investigators may also sit at a desk browsing through countless Facebook, Instagram, and other social media posts, hoping to find a photo of a person frolicking in a bar or enjoying a day at the beach.

Oddly, a Facebook photo is not necessarily current on the day it is posted; and someone may be "tagged" in an older photograph that is posted more currently. Facebook and Instagram photos are thus misleading because they may have been taken years before the claimant's disability and are not posted with attribution to the actual time the photo was taken. 

The seasoned lawyers at DeBofsky, Sherman & Casciari, PC, have successfully challenged insurance company efforts to discontinue benefits based upon unfair video surveillance and social media evidence. Working with an experienced lawyer who has, as a recent television commercial proclaims, "seen everything," can help you to protect your rights and financial security.

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