Imagine how it might feel to know that everywhere you go, someone is following you, perhaps videotaping or photographing you without your consent. You find cars tailing you when you leave work at the end of the day. Suspicious people pursue you everywhere, even coming to your workplace and seeking out personal information about you from your coworkers. Eventually, every shadow startles you.
If you thought only celebrities had to worry about stalkers, think again. This happened to one of our clients. If you’re unlucky enough to get hurt in an accident, it could happen to you, too.
Why Insurance Companies Stalk You
When an accident happens in a state with no-fault accident laws, an individual’s own auto insurance policy provides payments for the medical bills resulting from his or her injuries. This is true even if the injured person is not the one driving. Because of that regulation, there are some instances in which a person injured in an accident does not personally have insurance coverage through no fault of their own, but simply because he or she does not own a car. Often, the solution is to use benefits purchased by another member of the household, or a resident-relative. The catch is that to access a family member’s coverage, the accident victim must live in the same home as the insured party.
Insurance policies are supposed to provide coverage fairly. Of course some restrictions like this one, must exist to prevent fraud and keep people from misusing coverage. But just like many other facets of the claims process, insurers have repeatedly tried to abuse this restriction.
For the case of this particular client, who personally had no auto insurance but was the resident-relative of someone who did, the insurance company was desperate to find some way to deny the claim, however devious. The corporation didn’t want to shell out the money to pay for the injuries, so they latched onto a completely unsubstantiated idea. If this victim did not actually live with the family member as claimed, the insurance company would be off the hook, and the victim would be the one stuck with the bills.
Even though this was a big “if” and there was no reason to suspect that it was true, the insurance adjuster decided to act as though it was true. The company then began trying to prove its unfounded theory by sending an adjuster to the victim’s place of work. This adjuster talked to people there to try to find out where the claimant really lived and followed her when she left work. The insurance company essentially began stalking her.
The Big Deal about Insurers Following Claimants
Our client did, in fact, live at the address she claimed to live at with the family member whose benefits she was trying to access. In all likelihood, there are people out there who might wonder what the big deal is. If the claimant really had nothing to hide, why should being followed worry her, right?
Wrong. This poor woman had nothing to hide, but she also should never have been made to feel afraid. And isn’t that exactly how stalkers make individuals feel, especially if they don’t know who is following them or why? Certainly this woman had reason to fear for her safety, to imagine that she was about to become the victim of a mugging, assault, or other form of violent crime. It’s not paranoia if someone is actually after you. It doesn’t matter that this woman was in no real danger – what matters is that this insurer acted in a way to make her believe that her safety could be at risk.
Further, insurance companies engage in this sort of behavior for a big-picture reason. It’s not all about getting out of paying this one claim – it’s about discouraging people who are really hurt from filing claims in the future. These companies would rather spend policyholder dollars on private investigators and professional stalkers than on the legitimate injuries of claimants. That’s not what you’re paying premiums for, and it’s not right.
Insurance companies have the right to investigate fraud, but they absolutely do not have the right to harass individuals for making a claim, or to cause people to feel threatened in any way.