It’s alarming but true: if you’ve made an insurance claim, a private investigator could be watching you. Surveillance is one of the sometimes drastic lengths that insurance companies will go to in order to make sure your claim is genuine. According to ABC News, there are thousands of insurance investigators keeping tabs on claimants right now.1 But is insurance surveillance legal? How far can investigators go as they attempt to gather information? And what can you do if you realise you’re being watched?
Is Insurance Surveillance Legal?
Yes. In Australia, insurance surveillance is legal on public property. Insurance companies conduct two main types of surveillance: desktop surveillance, which is monitoring of a person’s social media accounts, and direct personal surveillance, which is monitoring a person in real life.2
However, there are limits to what a private investigator can do. Private investigators can’t trespass onto your property, seize your property, force entry into your house, access confidential government information or take photos of you in a private place or engaged in a private act (such as undressing, taking a shower etc).
Consumer rights lawyers have pressed for more regulation of insurance investigators after clients have claimed to have been harassed or intimidated. According to an article published by ABC News in 2016, one in four calls to the Financial Rights Legal Centre in Sydney is from people who say they have been bullied by insurance investigators.3
What can investigators record?
A private investigator can legally take photos and videos of you and your house unless they are trespassing on your land in order to do so or recording you undertaking private activities. They cannot bug your phone or use a listening device to record private conversations they are not a part of.
Can they monitor my social media accounts?
Yes, and information they obtain from social media is widely used as evidence in order to reduce claims of a plaintiff’s injuries. If you’ve made a personal injury claim, you need to be careful about not only what you post on social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram but what friends and family members “tag” you in.4
What should I do if I’m being recorded?
If a private investigator films you doing something you’ve claimed to be unable to do, you may be accused of embellishing your injuries and your claim for damages may be at risk.
If you have made a claim it’s therefore wise to be aware of the fact you could be filmed. Don’t do anything your doctors have told you not to do or anything your insurer could use as evidence against your claim.
If you suspect that a private investigator is recording your personal conversations or in some way behaving unethically, you can make a complaint with the Office of Fair Trading in your state.
Shine Lawyers are experts in compensation law. If you’re unable to work due to an injury you sustained due to someone else’s negligence or you have another dispute with your insurance company that needs resolving, we can help. Contact us today.
Written by Shine Lawyers on November 19, 2018. Last modified: November 19, 2018.