Often, insurance companies will require that claimants submit to an interview during the application stage and periodically during the administration of a claim. These interviews can either be in person, called a “Field Interview,” or over the telephone. There are several things you need to know before you submit to an interview by your disability insurance company.
At the beginning of a disability insurance claim and periodically thereafter, claims examiners will often request that you submit to a telephone interview. This is usually presented as a casual attempt to gather information or update your file. Do not be caught off guard. Claims examiners are taught to ask questions in such a way to illicit certain answers which can be taken out of context to create the appearance that there are inconsistencies between your statements and your medical information. This can be used to justify a secret surveillance investigation of you by a private investigator hired your insurance company, a medical examination by a physician chosen by your insurance company, or even a denial of your claim. Carefully consider each question posed by your insurance company and ask them to clarify any questions that are in any way ambiguous. Often claims examiners will ask open ended questions, so that claimants feel compelled to continue talking until interrupted. Without realizing it, claimants may be giving a false impression of their abilities. Likewise, in regards to certain questions, claims examiners will try to limit a claimant’s answers to a simple “yes” or “no.” Do not be afraid to give an explanation where one is needed, even if you are discouraged from continuing your answer or are being rushed to move on to another question. Giving incomplete answers can be devastating to your claim. For this reason, at Disability Insurance Law Group, we always thoroughly discuss all aspects of a claim with our clients before an interview and never allow them to speak to an the insurance company’s agent without our presence.
Insurance companies will often require claimants to submit to a Field Interview by one of its investigators. Usually, insurance companies will request that these interviews take place in the claimant’s home, so that they can inspect the claimant’s living environment. At Disability Insurance Law Group, we never allow an interview to take place in a claimant’s home. This is because the interviewer will take notes on whether there are stairs in your home, whether necessities are located on high or low shelves, whether the home is kept up, whether there is a long distance to take the trash to the curb, and whether there are assistant devices. Often, the investigator’s observations alone are misleading, as many claimants have friends, family members, or employees who help them with household chores.
These interviews are often associated with surveillance either before or after the interview. Sometimes the interviewer will ask the claimant general questions about the claimants abilities and use surveillance video to attempt to show a discrepancy between the claimant’s statements and the video footage. Often, the video footage is innocuous and not inconsistent with the claimant’s answers, which were merely taken out of context by the investigator. However, an unprepared claimant can be caught off guard and unable to fully clarify. Other times, the investigator creates a report subtly misrepresenting the claimant’s statements and pressures the claimant to immediately review and sign it. If the claimant does not notice the misrepresentations and signs the document, the claimant has asserted that all the information in the report is correct. Often these interviews are intimidating and confusing for claimants. We allows attend our clients’ field interviews, demand that they take place in our office or a neutral location, and will not allow our clients to sign any document without first thoroughly examining it.