If you’ve been hurt in an accident, your main focus in the weeks following will be on your recovery, medical assistance, and insurance paperwork. But one aspect most people don’t think about after lodging a claim is insurance company surveillance.
Insurance companies, driven by a mix of due diligence and financial motives, use various tactics to monitor claimants. Insurance company surveillance tactics vary from monitoring your social media accounts to physical surveillance. These tactics are used by insurance adjusters to ensure that claims are genuine and to reduce your compensation.
If you, or someone you know, has been in an accident, it’s important to be aware of these insurance surveillance tactics. At Patino Law Firm, we have extensive experience helping accident victims secure fair compensation. In this guide, we’ll explore the common surveillance tactics insurance companies use and what you can do to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
What Is an Insurance Adjuster?
Before we look at common insurance surveillance tactics, it’s important to understand the personal injury claim process and an insurance adjuster’s role. Here’s a quick overview of the process:
- Filing your personal injury claim — If you’ve been in an accident caused by the negligence of another person or party, you can seek compensation.
- Gathering evidence — For your claim to be successful, you’ll need to provide evidence (photos, eyewitnesses, expert witnesses, crash report, etc.).
- Investigation — If you have a viable case, the insurance company will assign an insurance adjuster to assess the case, their client’s liability, and your injuries. After this, they will usually make you a first offer.
- Negotiating fair compensation — An insurer’s initial offer is usually low, and you’ll need to negotiate a fair settlement. This process involves a settlement demand letter and counteroffers, but all take place outside court. If it fails, then it becomes a personal injury lawsuit.
As you can see, an insurance adjuster, also known as a claims adjuster, plays a crucial role in determining your settlement.
An insurance adjuster is a professional the insurance company employs to investigate and evaluate insurance claims. Their primary role is determining the extent of the insurance company’s liability in a particular claim. Their responsibilities include:
While the law binds insurance adjusters, they are willing to go to extreme lengths to disprove or reduce a claim — even following people around and speaking to neighbors to try to catch them out.
Common Surveillance Tactics Used by Insurance Companies
Now that you’re aware of the personal injury claims process and an insurance adjuster’s role, you can see why it’s important to understand their tactics. Insurance companies, especially when dealing with car accident victims, employ various surveillance tactics to monitor claimants.
These tactics are designed to gather evidence that might contradict a claimant’s reported injuries or the severity of their condition. We’ve split them into two categories — physical and digital surveillance — to help you understand the different methods insurance companies use.
While our list isn’t exhaustive, it covers the main tactics used by insurance adjusters.
Physical Surveillance Tactics
Insurance adjusters often use video surveillance as a reliable method to verify the authenticity of a claim. By hiring private investigators, they aim to capture footage of claimants involved in activities that might contradict their reported injuries.
For instance, a person who has claimed a severe back injury might be seen lifting heavy objects or participating in a local basketball game. Such footage can significantly undermine the credibility of the claimant and be used as evidence to reduce or deny compensation.
Claimants must be aware of their surroundings and avoid any activities that might be perceived as inconsistent with their injuries.
Photographic surveillance operates on the same principle as video surveillance but relies on still images. Private investigators, armed with cameras, might discreetly take photographs of claimants as they go about their daily activities. These photos can then be analyzed for any evidence contradicting the claimant’s statements.
For example, a claimant who asserts they require crutches to walk might be photographed jogging or walking unaided in a park. Such contradictions, when presented, can cast doubt on the claimant’s honesty and the validity of their claim.
Speaking to Friends, Family, and Neighbors
Insurance adjusters understand that you are more relaxed and open around familiar faces. As a result, they might approach your friends, family, or neighbors to gather information. This tactic is about observing your physical activities and collecting statements that might contradict your version of events or the severity of your injuries.
For instance, a neighbor might casually mention that they saw you mowing the lawn or playing with your kids in the backyard — activities that might be inconsistent with the injuries claimed. Friends or family might unknowingly share details about a recent trip or outing that you participated in, which could be used to question the authenticity of your claim.
You must inform your close ones about the ongoing claim process and advise them to be cautious about sharing any information related to your health, activities, or the accident itself.
Digital Surveillance Tactics
Social Media Monitoring
In today’s digital age, social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (X) have become gold mines for insurance adjusters. Claimants often share updates, photos, and videos of their daily lives, which can be scrutinized for inconsistencies with their claims.
For example, a simple post about a weekend hike or a photo from a dance party can be detrimental to your claim if it contradicts the reported injuries.
You should be cautious about your online posts and consider tightening your privacy settings. It’s also advisable to inform friends and family not to tag you in posts or photos that might be used against them. This even applies to photos from before your accident, as it can be difficult to prove when photos are taken.
Online Activity Tracking
Insurance companies might also monitor your online activities, such as forum posts, blog comments, or reviews. For instance, a claimant discussing their recent gym workouts on a fitness forum might raise eyebrows if they’ve claimed severe physical injuries.
To safeguard against this, claimants should be mindful of their online footprint and avoid discussing their injuries, accidents, or related activities on public platforms. It’s important to remember that once something is on the internet, it never goes away. Even if you delete it, it could have been screenshot or archived before deletion.
Digital Video Footage
Today there are cameras everywhere, and insurance adjusters will use that to their advantage. The rise of home security systems like Ring doorbell cameras and the omnipresence of CCTV in public spaces offer a massive opportunity for insurance adjusters.
Nearly everyone has a smartphone equipped with a camera, which means any event or outing could be caught on camera. While you might be mindful of your own online presence, you cannot control what others capture and share. A seemingly innocent video from a friend or even a stranger’s post could suddenly become a point of contention in your claim.
How to Protect Yourself from Insurance Company Surveillance Tactics
The number and variety of insurance company surveillance tactics can seem intimidating and scary. But the aim of this guide isn’t to make you paranoid or feel like you’re being watched but to give you the information you need to safeguard your claim.
Being aware of these tactics is the first step to protecting yourself, but there are also several other things you can do:
Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
Your medical professional’s advice isn’t just for your health; it’s also a documented recommendation that can be referred to in your claim. If you’re seen doing activities that go against these orders, it can be used against you.
For instance, if you’ve been advised to use crutches to walk but are spotted walking without them, it could jeopardize your claim. Always adhere to medical advice and ensure all visits and recommendations are well-documented.
Limit Your Social Media Activity
While sharing updates or venting about your situation online is tempting, it’s best to limit what you post during the claim process. Even seemingly harmless posts can be misconstrued or taken out of context.
For example, something as seemingly innocuous as replying to a friend’s post asking how you are can be used by insurance adjusters. If, for example, you say, “I’m fine,” they could use this against you. In this instance, it would be advisable to reply privately to your friend.
If you must share, tighten your privacy settings and be cautious about what you disclose. Also, ask friends and family to avoid tagging you or sharing information about you.
Learn Your Rights
It’s crucial to understand what is and isn’t legal regarding insurance adjusters conducting surveillance. While a private investigator has the right to observe you in public spaces or from outside your home, they don’t have the right to enter your property without permission. If they do, you have every right to ask them to leave.
If someone trespasses on your property uninvited and refuses to leave, they’re breaking the law, and you can call the police. Familiarizing yourself with these boundaries ensures you’re not taken advantage of and can confidently assert your rights when needed.
Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Having a professional on your side can make a world of difference. Personal injury lawyers are well-versed in insurance companies’ tactics and can guide you on best practices. They can also handle communications with the insurance company, ensuring you’re not caught off guard or tricked into compromising your claim.
Our personal injury lawyers in McAllen and San Antonio can advise you on surveillance tactics, build a strong case, and fight for maximum compensation for your injuries, whichever route you choose. For a free consultation to see if you have a claim, call 855-LAW-NINJA, submit a contact form, or visit us in McAllen or San Antonio.