Should I Meet With a Disability Insurance Representative?
It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to request face-to-face meetings with people who file short-term and long-term disability claims. The adjuster or representative may describe it as a “field interview” or simply as a “casual meeting.” However, most of these meetings have another purpose: the insurance company wants to spy on you.
In this article, our disability insurance lawyers at Bryant Legal Group explain the risks associated with a field interview and suggest ways that you can minimize the harm.
What Is a Disability Insurance Field Interview?
Insurance adjusters claim that field visits are simply a chance to get to know you better, discuss your case, and update their records. In reality, the insurance company wants to evaluate your credibility and look for signs that you’re exaggerating your disability.
The typical at-home field interview will look something like this:
- The insurance company sends someone to your home.
- You welcome them in and maybe even offer them a cup of coffee.
- The company representative takes your picture and lots of notes.
- They ask you about your medical conditions, daily activities, and lifestyle.
- The interview may seem to go on forever while the representative asks you the same questions in different ways.
- You may be asked to sign a series of forms relating to your disability insurance claim.
While much of this may seem harmless, there’s a lot more going on than most people realize.
As you sit in your chair, walk to the kitchen for a second cup of coffee, and discuss your recent medical treatment, the insurance representative is watching your every move. They’re noticing how you walk, how many times you change position, and even how tidy your home is. In fact, the “insurance company representative” may not even be an employee; they may be a private investigator.
What Will the Insurance Company Do With the Information From My Field Interview?
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. They would rather keep their profits than pay out your long-term or short-term disability benefits. So, insurance adjusters often look for reasons to discredit your claims. One way to damage your credibility is to find inconsistencies in your story.
For example, suppose the insurance adjuster calls you and schedules a field interview. Since the interview will be at your home, you spend a little bit of time each day cleaning and tidying up. You make sure to take a shower and dress up a little bit on the day of the interview. After all, it’s an important meeting, and you want to make a good impression.
During the meeting, you start feeling pain in your low back, but you tough it out. Rather than elevate the legs on your recliner, you sit politely and chat with the insurance company representative. You’d love to take a break and get your pain medications, but you don’t want to be rude. Plus, you’re afraid taking a bunch of pills will make you look bad.
The insurance company’s version may frame your situation quite differently:
“Claimant was neatly dressed, and their house was spotless. They sat comfortably with me for two hours while we chatted about their symptoms and treatment. While they reported significant pain and symptoms, the claimant did not ask for a break to take medication or change their position. They did struggle to get out of their chair at the end of the appointment, but still walked me to the door. This is inconsistent with their claims of chronic and severe low back pain and radiculopathy.”
When the insurance adjuster receives this information, it may become part of the reason your claim is denied or your benefits are terminated.
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How Can I Minimize the Impact of a Disability Insurance Field Interview?
Before you politely decline a field interview, it’s a good idea to check your policy’s Plan Document or Summary Plan Description. Some plans can terminate your benefits if you refuse to meet with their representatives. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t control the situation.
First, you don’t have to meet with the field representative at your home. Our disability insurance attorneys would strongly suggest a neutral location like a library, coffee shop, or your attorney’s office. That way, the investigator won’t be able to inspect your home.
Second, if you’re uncomfortable or in pain, tell the insurance company representative. You should take your medications as prescribed, change positions when needed, and even end the meeting if your pain is intolerable. It’s always better to be honest with the insurance company, even if you’re embarrassed that you can’t sit for more than 10 minutes without moving around or elevating your legs.
Third, anticipate surveillance before and after your field interview. A private investigator may track your activity, hoping to find inconsistencies in your routines and activity tolerances. During this time, make sure you stick to your restrictions and take it easy. If you take your grandchildren to the park the day after your field interview and play for hours, a private investigator may be taping your outing, and they won’t mention that you spent several days afterward recovering.
Finally, if the insurance company wants a field interview, it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer. This meeting may be an early signal that the insurer wants to terminate or deny your claim. Your disability insurance attorney can help you prepare for the meeting and should attend the field visit.
During the appointment, your lawyer will help you answer questions properly and fight back if the insurance company representative uses any unscrupulous or unfair tactics.
Bryant Legal Group: Standing Up for Disability Insurance Claimants
At Bryant Legal Group, we focus our practice on complicated disability insurance claims. Our ERISA attorneys take a hands-on approach, guiding their clients through every step of their claim, including field interviews. If you’re unsure how to handle an upcoming insurance company meeting, we can give you practical advice from a trusted source.
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