Does filing an insurance claim in Georgia give the insurance company the right to spy on the claimant?
You or your loved one has made a claim for insurance benefits as a result of an accident. You might be wondering, “Can the insurance company spy on me now?” In Georgia, the answer is that they may, with some clearly defined exceptions.
So what does it mean if the insurance company is spying on you? Generally, what they are looking for is evidence that will help them reduce or dismiss your claim. So, in essence, they might believe that you are doing more than what you or your doctor say you are able to do.
Say they are paying for your claim, for example, for lost wages because your doctor says you cannot lift more than 10 pounds at a time due to a back injury. And one day you go to the park with your nephew or grandson who is obviously far more than 10 pounds and they catch you throwing him up in the air and catching him. That can be extremely detrimental to your case.
Keep in mind that when the insurance company is paying for a claim, they have access to your medical records and will know when your doctor appointments are because they pay for them.
What else can insurers do?
Under Georgia law, what does the insurance company have the right to record? The answer is rather complex and depends on whether the recording contains audio or video.
Georgia is a "one-party consent" state for audio recordings. O.C.G.A. §16-11-66(a) states that a person may intercept a communication "where such person is a party to the conversation" even if it would be otherwise prohibited under O.C.G.A. §16-11-62. What this means, simply, is that the insurance company has the right to record any telephone calls they make to you because they are a party in the conversation. At least one party needs to know about the recording, so they can technically record you whether or not you agree to it.
This does not mean, however, that they can record other conversations that you have regarding your accident or injuries. Third party recordings of phone calls are prohibited unless they take place in public.
Video recording however is a different matter entirely. There are some specific rules about where the recording can or cannot take place that are spelled out in O.C.G.A. §16-11-62(2). The statute specifically prevents someone from taking any photographs or video of another while they are not in a public place unless they have consent from all the individuals being recorded. So while the recording of video behind closed doors is not generally permissible, the interpretation of "public space" is often determined by what can be seen from the street.
Can they record me anywhere?
So, essentially, if you have made a claim to an insurance company, they have the right to record telephone conversations they have with you. They also have the right to record you in public spaces and anywhere that is private that is easily viewable from a public space.
This does not mean they have the right to use a special zoom lens or climb a tree in order to be able to see into your windows, but it may mean that they can see activity that is going on in your home that is viewable from the street.
Of course, the filing of a claim does not mean that you give up the right to privacy entirely, but it does open your behavior up to inspection. It is imperative that you comply with the doctor's orders, even on the days when you might be feeling better, because any actions not in line with what the insurance company has been told are your limitations can be used to discredit your claim.
The insurance companies have legal counsel and you should as well. Contact Jason R. Schultz at 404-474-0804 to make sure you understand your legal rights and obligations.