The Joys of Being Under Surveillance

I would say that in about half of our files, the insurer hires a private investigator. His job is to gather some video on our clients.

It’s rude, creepy and unsettling. It is also perfectly legal. They may not trespass on your property, they may not peek into your windows, but that is about it. They can talk to neighbours, they can photograph you entering your driveway or selling things at the county fair. They can stick a camera on a shopping cart behind rolls of Charmaine and follow you around in Zehrs.


Usually they follow a client around for two or three days in a row. They want consecutive days in the hope that they can prove a pattern of activity which proves that you are not as disabled as you claim. The very odd time the surveillance tapes can really hurt a case; in the majority of cases, the surveillance is not worth much at all.

I have only really two suggestions for clients:


  • Do not under any circumstances confront the investigator; nothing good can come from that (although I can tell you some hilarious stories involving van chases).
  • Do not in the course of your file tell your doctor or anyone something that is not true about your lifestyle. Nothing is worse than a clear statement from you that you cannot complete your gardening, which is then followed by a six-hour video of you building a retaining wall for your geraniums. Not good. 

As with so much else in life that you cannot control, you just have to learn to live with the thought that your claim may involve some unwanted invasion of your privacy. I have told lawyers in Owen Sound for insurers to go ahead and put a camera on my client if they have any doubt about his or her honesty. “We have nothing to hide.” Let that be your attitude as well.