Long term disability insurance claimants and future claimants need to be aware that any time they enter a retail establishment this holiday season - independent store, big box, outlet or a mall - their actions are on camera and it is extremely likely that they are being recorded.
With surveillance cameras, sophisticated systems that ping shopper's smart phones to send in-store e-coupons and tracking systems in retail stores and malls across the country, insurance companies have a new data collection point for claimant information: the retail environment.
If you are on claim for an orthopedic injury and are videotaped lugging multiple shopping bags and packages in a local mall, the video footage may be used by the insurance company to terminate your claim. If your face is seen on a street surveillance cameras dancing at a holiday parade, consider your claim at risk.
Does that mean you can never leave your home to go shopping?
The answer depends on your disability. Clearly a claimant with a severe cardiac condition who requires an oxygen tank to breathe would not be expected to spend a whole day at a mall carrying packages. Someone suffering from debilitating anxiety arising from a fear of crowds who is videotaped in a mob of shoppers rushing into a store at 3:00 AM on Black Friday would trigger questions from a claims adjuster.
The debate between privacy advocates and property owners and municipalities over the use and rights of video surveillance is a serious issue, but it is not one that we advise our clients to get involved with. Our primary concern is protecting them, and ensuring that they win the fight to obtain their benefits.
The question to ask yourself is this: would your being videotaped while holiday shopping raise serious questions about the legitimacy of your disability? If the answer is yes, then consider shopping online.
Early on, we were advising our clients that insurance companies were looking at social media to monitor claimant activities. Today we advise clients that if they are in a public place, assume that there are surveillance cameras nearby and that they are being videotaped. If there is any way that the insurance company can find a way to demonstrate that the videotaped activity is proof that their disability should be questioned, be confident that they will pursue possession of the video footage and seek to use it in a legal battle.
The notion of curtailing your activities because of a presumption of fraud on the part of the insurance company is an unpleasant one. But weakening your defense in the fight for long term disability benefits for a holiday shopping expedition isn't a good idea.
If you are contemplating filing a claim after the New Year, as many individual do, be mindful of your activities in the public arena. If you have concerns or questions, call our office and ask to speak with a partner. This is one battle you don't want to take on alone, and with Frankel & Newfield, you don't have to. Call us today at 877-LTD-CLAIM (877-583-2524) to learn more.