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Can Insurance Companies Use Private Investigators to Deny Claims?

Even though car insurance companies exist to cover the cost of vehicle repairs and any injuries, that coverage also comes with certain requirements. When a drunk driver hits you, you need to document the accident and report it through the proper channels. If you’re lucky, the other driver will admit fault and file a claim.

However, their insurance company may look for any reason to reject a claim and avoid paying out. One way they do this is by hiring private investigators to look into the other party and their situation.

How legal is it for an insurance company to use a private investigator? And what would that investigator look for?

Can an Insurance Company Use a Private Investigator?

Car insurance companies will often use various strategies in order to avoid paying certain claims, especially when they’re higher in value. One of the ways they go about finding a reason to deny a claim is by hiring private investigators.

Technically speaking, there’s nothing illegal about hiring a private investigator. Any person can go to an associated agency and hire one for any of their purposes, such as looking into a distrustful spouse or finding dirt on a business partner. The same rules apply to an insurance company.

Insurers will claim that their use of an investigator is solely to prevent fraud. In reality, they’re also looking for something to weaken or challenge a victim’s case.

On the one hand, hiring an investigator feels like they’re overstepping some kind of professional boundary. However, investigators are limited in what they can legally do.

What Private Investigators Look For

A private investigator isn’t going to necessarily analyze every single aspect of your life. After all, there are some boundaries they cannot cross without breaking the law. In the case of a vehicle insurance claim, they want to find anything that could put you at fault or invalidate your claim.

Some of the red flags they want to find include a history of filing claims, no police report, and delayed reporting.

A history of filing claims shows that you may know how to take advantage of the system in your favor. No police report may prove that there was no accident or that it wasn’t serious enough to warrant any kind of police involvement. The same goes for delayed reporting.

In addition, a private investigator will look for anything that discredits you as a person. That may be a history of alcoholism, mental illness, or anything else that paints you in a negative image. They’ll of course, also see if your vehicle’s damage matches the claim.

What a Private Investigator Can and Can’t Do

Movies and television shows often mislead people into thinking that private investigators operate under different rules than everyone else. It’s not uncommon to see them breaking into apartments or hacking into someone’s electronic devices. However, all of that is an illegal activity and fictional behavior.

Private investigators are bound to the same exact laws as any other ordinary citizen. They are not officers of the law, nor are they given any kind of special privileges in their line of work.

A private investigator cannot make arrests. They are not allowed to spy on people in the privacy of their homes or trespass on their property. At no point can they hack into a private account or illegally gain access to someone else’s devices or information.

What an investigator can do is watch people in public and take photos of them as part of their investigation. Depending on the state, they can record audio conversations with or without the other party’s consent.

While they can’t hack into your private accounts, they are free to monitor and watch your public online activity, such as your social media accounts.

How to Protect Your Claim

There are some ways to protect your claim before and after it’s filed. Even wearing a seatbelt can make a huge difference, as it may show negligence on your part.

One way to protect yourself is by using a dashboard camera. At the very least, it can show that you’re not at fault in an accident, even if it doesn’t prove the other person is completely responsible.

To protect yourself after an accident, make sure to follow all the proper procedures. File a police report, follow your doctor’s orders, and be cautious on social media.

A police report shows accountability. If your doctor orders you to limit physical activity, going against those orders can make it seem like you weren’t as injured as you initially claimed.

You also don’t want to post anything on social media that could be used against you. For example, a friend may post photos of you at a party shortly after suffering a devastating accident. This could be used against you by the insurance company.

What to Do if an Insurance Company Denied a Claim

There’s always the chance that the insurance company’s private investigators find something that they use to deny your claim. However, you still have options available if it comes to that.

First of all, try to get the basis for the claim denial in writing. If they don’t provide a letter, then ask for one. Based on their reasoning, you may be able to provide additional evidence.

Next, you can file an appeal through your car insurance company.

If all else fails, you can contact a car accident lawyer. These lawyers are the experts in this field and can help you fight this decision or otherwise get compensation from the opposing party.

Defend Against Private Investigators

You may run into all kinds of trouble when an insurance company hires private investigators. They can get access to information that may convince the company to reject a claim. Whether or not the information was acquired legally is also up for debate.

In either case, RHINO Lawyers can help you after a car accident. Our clients work directly with an attorney and only pay after we win your case. Contact us to set up a free video consultation and to tell us more about your situation.


In short, after a car accident, you may not know your rights. Above all, don’t struggle through the process alone. Actually, our personal injury team is here to help you with any legal needs you might have regarding your accident.

Lastly, let RHINO Lawyers answer your questions and review the facts of your case with a Free Consultation. So, get started by completing the “Free Instant Case Evaluation” or by calling us any time, day or night, at 844.RHINO.77.