Hartford Disability Company, and other disability insurers, use video surveillance and field interviews as a technique to deny claims. A recent federal court case found that Hartford correctly terminated long term disability benefits for a claimant who was caught on video surveillance engaging in activities which she had claimed she could not do.
In this case, after Hartford conducted its surveillance, which was done surreptitiously as usual without the knowledge of the claimant, the company subjected the claimant to a field interview. Unfortunately, during the interview, the claimant lied about her actions, denying she had engaged in any of the activities that had been captured on video.
Based on the video surveillance and the falsehoods told by the claimant during the interview, the court concluded that Hartford did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in terminating this claimant’s long term disability benefits.
What to Learn From the Case
When claimants fill out their application for benefits, they present activities they cannot do. For example, they say they can only sit or stand for a certain period of time or can only drive short distances. This may be updated as time goes on.
Later, generally after a claimant is receiving benefits, the insurer will conduct video surveillance to try and catch the claimant doing some activity they claimed they could not do, or which the insurer can interpret broadly as the activity being inconsistent with the claim. Maybe the claimant drove two hours after claiming he or she could not sit for more than 10 minutes.
But, the big problem occurs in the field interview. The claimant must be truthful. The activity caught on video surveillance may have a reasonable explanation and be a complete aberration from the claimant’s usual daily activities. But, if claimants deny they engaged in the activity, any other claim they make about their pain and suffering or inability to do certain things is no longer credible.
At Attorneys Dell & Schafer, we believe an attorney should prep the client prior to a field interview so the client knows what to expect. Claimants should always assume they have been captured on video surveillance and should be honest about their activities. One of our attorneys will also be present during the field interview. If you need any help with your disability claim, no matter what stage you are at, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.