As more and more individuals establish an online presence, insurance companies are looking to cyberspace to investigate – and in some cases find evidence which may support the denial of insurance disability claims. The implications are twofold. “E-investigations” provide a method of ensuring that only valid claims are paid and that insurance costs to consumers are mitigated. However, sometimes this research unveils irrelevant, dated or inconsequential information used to support an insurance company’s denial of disability benefits.
In the context of disability benefits, claimants must establish that they are unable to work in their own occupation and in some cases, any gainful occupation. If a claimant has an online presence which indicates participation in physical activities such as sports, or in social groups, the insurer is likely to find this data and compare it to what the claimant is noting in submissions to evaluate the actual limitations in place. Information reported online can be very damaging, as the Washington Post recently reported in an article about background checks. Washington Post, April 11, 2012. Information thought to be confidential may find its way to the internet in some format and into the hands of the insurance company.
An individual who claims to be unable to work should not be posting their availability to work on sites, such as by creating a Linkedin profile or an account on a job search engine. We recently had an experience where our client did not tell us that they had returned to work, but the insurance company found out by checking the client’s Linkedin profile. That case settled quickly! Another client’s reasonable attempts to keep her new employer’s identity confidential (since they did not know of her disability) was undermined since her employer noted on its website that she had joined their team of executives. While the company knew that she had returned to work, they did not know where.
If you feel that your disability claim has been denied due to an insurance company manipulating or unreasonably using personal information obtained online, Bonny G. Rafel can assist you in correcting the company’s errors and ensuring that your rights to benefits are not threatened by inaccurate information.
– By Sara E. Kaplan, Esq.