Articles for Non-Lawyers

Photo: Young insurance company investigator watching you

Insurance Surveillance by Patricia Santucci

What You Need to Know

When you seek benefits or compensation from your insurance company for personal injury (whether from a car accident or through a disability claim), you can expect that your insurance company will do some surveillance of you.

Insurance Companies Routinely Conduct Investigations Including Surveillance

Insurance companies routinely conduct a detailed investigation on a claimant’s background. They do this by hiring an investigation company to collect evidence for them. You may be videotaped and your neighbours and co-workers may be interviewed about your background, activities and injuries.

The first thing you probably wonder is whether these investigations are legal? The answer is yes. However, your insurance company must conduct surveillance within the confines of the law. The investigation cannot involve trespass on private property or any interception of electronic communications. Claimants and witnesses cannot be threatened. The investigator cannot defame the claimant.

With respect to video surveillance, your insurance company’s investigator will typically park a surveillance van near your house and videotape your activities. The investigator is permitted to follow your movements, whether you are on foot or in your vehicle.

Privacy Rights Must be Respected

Your privacy rights must be respected. The investigator cannot enter your home or business to conduct surveillance of you, but if you are out in public, they are allowed to videotape your activities. This includes outside of your house, where you may be doing yard work or shoveling snow. You could also be videotaped lifting heavy bags of groceries or engaging in other strenuous physical activity, such as home renovation projects.

You have nothing to fear from surveillance so long as you tell the truth when describing your injuries and restrictions to your doctor or when giving evidence at Examinations for Discovery or at trial. If you do not tell the truth, then a Judge or Jury who sees the surveillance, may have very serious doubts as to the truth and reliability of all of your evidence, if your testimony conflicts with what is depicted on the surveillance tapes. This could have a significant impact on the success of your case.

Sometimes Surveillance is Helpful

In some instances, surveillance is helpful to your case, especially when corroborates your evidence regarding your limitations.

Immediately Advise Your Lawyer

If you believe you are under surveillance, you should immediately advise your lawyer. You should call the police if you feel threatened. Do not exaggerate your limitations for the camera. Do not get angry or confrontational with the investigator.

At Santucci Personal Injury Law, we discuss issues such as surveillance with our clients at the outset of their claim. We make sure that your privacy rights are not being violated (by asking our clients to advise us if they suspect that they are being watched and by demanding production of the surveillance from the insurance company so we can review it).

» Call us for a free consultation today.

About the Author Patricia Santucci

Patricia Santucci is a personal injury lawyer born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario. She holds several degrees having attended King’s College at the University of Western Ontario, McMaster University, earned a Master of Arts degree at the University of Windsor and an Ontario Teaching Degree from Teacher’s College as well as her Ontario Teaching Certificate. After graduating from the University of Alberta law school she was called to the bar in 2000. You can find Patricia on and LinkedIn or directly through this website