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Video surveillance is a tool that insurance companies like The Hartford Financial Services sometimes use to review and validate disability claims in order to protect themselves from fraud. Although this can be a moral and useful tactic, The Hartford is facing numerous claims that they wrongfully terminated disability benefits based on surveillance video produced by private investigators.

It all started when Jack “Rocky” Whitten went on Good Morning America to share his story about how he was spied on while getting into a van, reading a magazine and while eating chips and salsa. He had “no difficulty dipping chips at a restaurant,” The Hartford said. The insurance company used this video surveillance as evidence that Whitten, who was on disability due to a broken neck, could return to work. Following the airing of the GMA segment Whitten’s benefits were reinstated, however it prompted dozens of other policyholders to come forward with their stories.

Policyholders find the correlations of their actions and the actions of their insurance companies to be bizarre and unwarranted. “I mean, they found the least little thing that makes no sense, I mean a chip weighs nothing,” Whitten’s wife, Leigh, said. Eric Neubarth, who suffered a traumatic brain injury, said that his benefits were cut off partially because he was filmed dong his laundry and eating lunch at a deli. Evan Werner severely injured his back in a car accident, and surveillance of him going to a doctor’s appointment and walking his dog was enough to convince The Hartford that he could perform sedentary work.

Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, defended The Hartford’s decisions to sever policies, claiming that surveillance is conducted to gather information, not to terminate claims. “My understanding is that the video is never used as a stand-alone tool for decision making. And what I can say is that claims can be appealed,” Pisano said.

Werner and many others have chosen to sue The Hartford, claiming that evidence gathered was absolutely insufficient and that their disability benefits were wrongfully terminated. Werner doesn’t understand why he was staked out after nine doctors told him that he was unable to work. Investigators waited outside his doctors office in order to film him in action. Werner’s lawyer, Mindy Chmielarz who is a partner for the DI Law Group, said “planning surveillance and setting up your investigator in the doctor’s office parking lot is dirty pool, you know you are going to get some type of activity, no matter how minimal it may be.”

The Hartford issued a statement in defense after the GMA piece aired, saying that they conduct surveillance in less than five percent of its long-term disability claims, and that in less than two percent of all of their cases investigated using surveillance are disability benefits terminated. Regardless of the amount of people this investigative surveillance affects, the question remains: Are The Hartford’s tactics fair? ┬áTell us what you think in the comments section.

Insurance bad faith industriesThe business model for an insurance company should be relatively simple. Individuals pay for coverage in the event that they suffer some form of an accident or financial loss. Being that most people rarely ever need to file a claim but pay for coverage anyway, the insurance company should be capable of awarding those who do file legitimate claims while still operating at a profit.

Unfortunately, insurance companies are in fact businesses. This means that they will often times make decisions not in the best interest for those they insure, but instead in the interest of making the most money they can. The best way for insurance companies to accomplish this is to deny claims even when individuals are rightfully entitled to compensation. Acts such as these are known as bad faith practices and are in fact illegal.

With giant legal teams and vast experience, there are many tricks insurance companies try to swindle their way out of awarding claims. The reason bad faith practices work is because only 5% of denied claims are ever contested. Even if insurers have to endure costly appeals, settlements, and bad faith penalties for that 5%, denying the other 95% of claims still yields higher profits.

Whether you are up against an auto, medical, health, homeowners, disability or life insurance company, do not let you and your family get bullied around. If you have suffered financial loss you know should be covered by your insurer, research a capable and experienced insurance lawyer immediately. Insurance companies need to be held accountable for upholding contractual agreements just like everyone else and an insurance lawyer can help make this happen.

Long Term Disability Law FirmWhat is the difference between long term disability and short term disability benefits?

Disability is considered by some experts to be the most important policy under the umbrella of insurance. When considering an injury or health condition that will take one away from their job, people become concerned with health insurance. However, health insurance only covers the medical portion of the tragedy. Disability insurance exists to protect and replace partial future wages in the event that one will become physically or mentally unable to work.

Short-term disability (STD) replaces a portion of an employee’s salary if a physician- documented injury or disability will prevent the policy owner from working. Most policies will cover 50% – 70% of wages. The policy generally begins after sick leave is exhausted and will go into effect for 10-26 weeks. Those who utilize STD will typically have injuries or conditions that are quickly treatable and have short recovery times, such as broken bones or simple surgical procedures.

Unlike STD, Long-term disability (LTD) does not go into effect until 90 days after the individual has been out of work, and in some cases 180 days depending on the insurance. Although it takes longer to kick in, LTD has a much longer lifespan than STD. Some will remain in effect until recovery or until the individual is able to learn a skill which will not be detrimental to their condition or any procedures that they had done. In fact, some plans will extend until the age of retirement. Similar to STD, LTD will usually cover between 50% and 70% of earnings, however some employers allow employees to purchase extra, which would allow the policy to cover 80% of wages.

If you have become injured or disabled, and are unable to work or complete normal daily routines, it may become difficult to pay bills and other expenses. Fortunately, the skilled long term disability lawyers at Burke, Harvey & Frankowski, LLC are ready to fight for the benefits you are entitled to. The LTD attorneys understand the importance of obtaining these benefits and work tirelessly to help disabled clients across the United States navigate through the sea of claims and appeals forms as efficiently as possible.