After an accident, motorcyclists face a high risk of sustaining severe and potentially life-altering injuries. Even when a full physical recovery seems likely, unexpected medical debt accumulates quickly. With the high costs of health care only continuing to rise, any accident—no matter how minor—could leave individuals on the verge of insolvency.
Motorcycle accident victims don’t need to pay the price for someone else’s negligence. Under Washington state’s tort-based insurance system, motorcyclists injured in an accident that wasn’t their fault have a legal right to file a claim for compensation. However, insurance company surveillance is a common tactic used to reduce or even deny a claim.
Insurance Companies and Surveillance
Accidents can be expensive. Since most Americans cannot afford to pay collision-related expenses out-of-pocket, every state—with the exception of New Hampshire—requires motorists to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance.
Since Washington has a fault-based insurance system, motorcycle accident victims can file a claim for compensation against the at-fault motorist’s insurance company. However, insurance companies are fundamentally for-profit enterprises. While obliged to offer benefits to an injured rider, rarely do they offer a fair settlement without first issuing an investigation. During this process, an adjuster assigned to your claim could:
- Ask you to provide a recorded statement, hoping your narrative diminishes the company’s liability.
- Demand your consent to supposedly “independent” medical examinations, often scheduled with a physician known to write off accident-related injuries as “pre-existing” conditions.
- Contract private investigators, whose sole responsibility is uncovering evidence that an accident-related injury is being exaggerated or misrepresented.
Even if you have the necessary evidence to establish the other driver’s fault and substantiate your injuries, their insurance company could proactively search for a reason—any reason—to undermine your claim, watching your every move until you make a mistake. This surveillance can be intrusive, inconvenient, and unnerving.
Unfortunately, the practice is largely legal. So long as the insurance company’s investigators don’t trespass upon your property or attempt to enter your place of business, they may follow you, photograph you, and even take videos of you.
How Insurance Investigators Keep Tabs on Motorcycle Accident Claimants
Here are just a few ways insurance investigators sometimes keep tabs on motorcycle accident claimants.
Pictures and Video Footage
When an adjuster believes a motorcycle accident claim has been exaggerated or falsified, they could contract a private investigator to monitor an individual in many ways, such as when they:
- Run errands
- Go to the gym
- Take a vacation
If the investigator finds a claimant participating in activities that wouldn’t be possible if the injury were genuine, they’re permitted to take pictures or covertly create a video record to use as evidence in later negotiations.
Interviewing the Victim’s Associates
Insurance company surveillance sometimes includes soliciting interviews from people it believes could have knowledge about the motorcycle accident victim’s physical well-being. Potential interviewees include:
- Friends and family members
During investigative interviews, an adjuster may ask questions about the individual’s routines, habits, and lifestyle. The purpose of such interviews is to determine any inconsistencies between the victim’s claims and their post-accident actions.
Monitoring the Victim’s Social Media
After an accident, investigators may seek limited access to the victim’s social media accounts, including:
- YouTube profile
While social media has many advantages, an unsecured account can act as a veritable treasure trove of information for insurance investigators, who could use vacation pictures, routine updates, and location check-ins as evidence that a claimant has exaggerated their injuries.