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Winter Surveillance Optimized

February 2nd, 2018

Contributed by: Brian Coykendall

Weather plays a big role when determining a well-constructed plan of action for any surveillance on any claimant.  Immediately, most of us look ahead to the upcoming weather forecast and determine that rain, snow and high winds are probably not a great time to conduct surveillance.  The initial thought of these less-than-desirable conditions is that very little-to-no activity will present itself.  In most cases, that poses a very strong argument, especially regarding any outside activity at the claimant’s home.

However…

What we can’t immediately dismiss, and need to always keep in mind, is that most routines are minimally affected by most weather conditions.  We still commute to work, schools, scheduled appointments, etc.  Grocery shopping still needs to get accomplished as well as the rest of our daily needs, whichever those may be that are tailored to each separate individual.

Another highlight of this just took place a couple of weeks ago.  And, against the surveillance investigator’s judgement to pack it up and save it for a better day, the end result added a heavy dose of value to the client’s defense against the claimant’s alleged injuries and restrictions that she disclosed as part of her injury claim.  Surveillance began, on this initial day of the file, just prior to dawn.  It was raining and had only gotten worse as the morning progressed.  With the client’s budget and the M.O. to produce at the forefront of the investigator’s mind, he called the office to share his thoughts.  After a brief conversation, it was determined that a half day would be acceptable, and fair, to the client.  Shortly after that conversation, amidst a near downpour of heavy rain, the claimant’s garage door opened and she departed the area alone.  She was followed to a couple different locations before resting at a local library.  The investigator did his due diligence, following the claimant inside and observing her as she appeared to study a number of old newspapers.  Pretty boring stuff, right?

Wrong!!

Even though this surveillance didn’t prove to be anything too exciting; let’s say, for example, like going to the North American International Auto Show and browsing next year’s releases, or following the claimant into Gold’s Gym and obtaining an hour of video as she tossed around more weight than she weighs herself.  No.  But, the client found the information and video evidence to be about as exciting as the aforementioned.  The claimant’s disclosed restrictions included some driving and the fact that she could no longer read due to the headaches received from her recent auto injury.  The backpack that she swung over her shoulder just added that little something extra to the alleged back injury also.

Conclusion:

Although cases like this one do present themselves, I’m not suggesting that for any given poor weather report or the fact that it’s raining cats and dogs that we schedule maximum surveillance efforts and rush right out to make this happen.  We merely need to remember that with the proper pre-surveillance data collection, any case has the capability of presenting valuable information to our clients at any given time.

Michigan Winters Prove Excellent for Surveillance

January 31st, 2018

Michigan Winters aren’t conducive for surveillance?  Think again!  Winter surveillance is already proving to be a success, thanks to good planning and profiling of surveillance targets.

Even in good weather, the majority of surveillance activity focuses on a claimant’s daily routine and normal, everyday activities, often times away from their homes.  These are activities that are often identified through comprehensive profiling of a target.  A typical profile includes identifying who lives in the target’s household, how that household operates, are there children, who works, what social media is available, what can we ascertain about the subject and when is he or she is most likely to be active outside of their residence?  These routines don’t just stop because it is cold outside.  Think about your day for a moment.  You still have obligations to tend to, groceries to shop for, children to take to and from school, family to visit, and appointments to make.  The only difference in the winter months is the added exertion needed to tend to these activities.  Instead of walking to your car, starting it and driving off, you have to clear snow from your roof and scrape your windshield free of ice before going anywhere.  You probably even have to shovel your driveway and clear snow off your patio and walkways.  The point is, “the daily routine” still exists in the winter months, but more physically intensive steps sometimes have to be taken, which creates excellent opportunities for surveillance, especially when planned accordingly.

Michigan Winters Prove Excellent for Surveillance

A Thanksgiving Weekend Surveillance Tale

November 29th, 2017

Contributed by: Brian Coykendall

The holiday season is upon us and as most prepare for shopping, eating, decorating and spending time with family, a small group of investigators who conduct covert surveillance for a living are preparing for what it takes to document these very same activities being done by our targets.  The holiday season is unquestionably one of the busiest surveillance times of the year and having just experienced the Thanksgiving weekend and the challenges of conducting surveillance during this time of year, I thought it would be a great chance to share a short story (short for me that is) of how our team functions to ensure that our surveillance operations are successful for our clients.

First off, we have to discuss the hours.  Most of the year, we are able to maneuver cases to fit into the pre-determined time slots that best match the intelligence we have on a specific target.  This is intelligence based surveillance and our office team does an awesome job at collecting a ton of information on everyone we follow in the field long before we get on site (Thank you Christian and @Adam Groth).  During the holidays however; all bets are off, specifically in the sense that no one is following their known patterns.  School is out, people are not at work and although we may catch the “Going to Grandma’s House for Dinner” Facebook post, most schedules are out the window.  When our clients request surveillance this time of year, there is often a fairly specific objective; “let’s see if they go black Friday shopping” or “the claim is they can’t drive, but their family is all out of town, let’s see what happens”.  As a result, the surveillance days themselves are usually scheduled in larger blocks of time and/or consecutive days, meaning that we must be even more precise on our intel to ensure we are sitting at the correct home and watching for the right people.  Our office team is in overdrive trying to sort through the data on these requests right up until the last hours of the day prior to a holiday.

None of our clients want eight hours of us sitting on a house that we are not sure is occupied or that the target may have moved from.

Despite the work prior to surveillance, in some circumstances, information from the field is necessary to confirm data needed to continue a surveillance assignment.  As a result, each case has a backup plan with possible additional addresses, relative’s homes, other vehicles to look out for and information as to who is on-call in case we appear to be off target.  This scenario played out perfectly this past weekend and we saved a case from potentially poor results.

I was working a multiple consecutive day file up north with a lot of time and our client’s money committed to just this one weekend.  That’s a lot of pressure first off, but secondly, our target was immediately identified by our office as someone who moves around a lot.  This along with being recently divorced and not owning a home of his own created a “problem file” scenario.  We all know that case; the target’s driver’s license is registered at address A, his vehicle is registered at address B and his “data hits” show him at address C, all while being young enough to still be living at mom and dad’s which is address D.  I arrived at the client provided address to find no vehicles and no signs of life.  Knowing that a couple of the other addresses were nearby, I conducted some spot checks to see if I could locate our guy’s vehicle.  No luck.  Four addresses, no vehicles belonging to our target or his family at any of them, no signs of life and out of options.  I got a hold of the on-call research investigator for the weekend and she was able to do some digging based on the vehicles I did see at a couple of the other addresses, immediately ruling one out based on what we saw there (it appeared that an unrelated older couple recently moved in based on the vehicle).  Down to three addresses….  One of which also had a vehicle parked at it, registered to female who was the same age as are target.  A few minutes of social media searches later and the on-call research investigator was able to tell me that our target’s known family members and this woman (the homeowner of address #3) are connected on social media.  Based on the assumption that they are likely dating, we continued back to that address where her vehicle was parked.  Within minutes, our target arrived at the home.  Even better, he was carrying in groceries and walked straight into the home without knocking, giving us a pretty good indication that he is living at this location.  Now if he would only go ahead and register his driver’s licenses and vehicle there, that would be great!

That’s a long route to getting it right and although the report will simply reflect that we conducted some spot checks and ended up with video of the target at a new address, it was well worth the effort to avoid doing it wrong for three days straight with nothing of value for our client.  Hopefully this little insight into how we operate here at Sherlock Investigations was fun!  I plan to share more stories with everyone soon (after the holidays of course)!  Thank you for reading.  Any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at BC1@claimspi.com or online at Brian Coykendall LinkedIn.

Casualty Surveillance During Scheduled Appointments

February 3rd, 2017

Casualty Surveillance During Scheduled Appointments

In the most recent edition of the Michigan Chapter of IASIU’s newsletter, our Investigations Manager, Dan Klimek, authored a discussion piece focused on the pros and cons of conducting surveillance during scheduled appointments.  Concluding that these days are often productive and sometimes exceptional opportunities to not only confirm a target’s identity and residence, but also verify actions, limitations and activities before during and after such appointments.  There are of course limitations that can apply; solutions which are also discussed,  including utilizing varying field strategies to accomplish the goals of obtaining footage and remaining discreet, while keeping budgetary concerns in mind.  The full newsletter containing this discussion can be found here:

MI IASIU January, 2017 Newsletter

Sherlock Investigations is recognized as the leader in providing superior casualty surveillance investigations for the insurance defense community in Michigan. Each case entails a sophisticated plan of action, based on known, verified facts, newly developed intelligence and precise asset selection to give our clients consistently better results than other investigative providers.

Daniel Klimek, MS – Intelligence Analysis, is the Investigations Manager at Sherlock Investigations. Dan has planned and overseen thousands of surveillance operations and works directly with both the investigators and clients to design investigations for optimal outcomes.

 

Warm Winter Weather Sometimes Complicates Michigan Surveillance with Fog

January 26th, 2017

The good news for Sherlock clients conducting Michigan surveillance this winter has been the unusually warm weather. A periodic complication to this unique surveillance opportunity has been some instances of dense fog. insurance surveillance in fog

Fog impacts surveillance in multiple ways and it also has an impact on how claimants, like everyone else, behave. The most obvious problem with fog is that, when present and thick enough, it prevents the investigator from capturing video of the claimants activities, even at relatively close range. Surveillance rarely turns out well when we can’t see the subject. That one is obvious. Another problem is pursuit. When a claimant leaves their residence, fog makes pursuit very difficult for the surveillance investigator. Our team will literally have to be right on top of the claimant and even then, with others driving cautiously, maintaining sight can be challenging, increases the risk of detection and raises safety concerns for all involved. (Remember, the last thing anyone wants is a potential accident involving the subject/claimant or the investigator)

Using the glass half full perspective, a lighter fog can help the investigator maintain her/his cover longer, keeps the subject focus on their driving and not someone following them and often clears out as quickly as it rolls in. One more important twist is the fact that fog can be dense in one neighborhood and almost non-existent in the next. Where this makes us crazy is in determining if we should initiate surveillance or call off the day. At Sherlock, the last thing we want to do is put anyone at risk or waste a clients money. (If you are thinking that no PI will do surveillance in the fog, think again. We have seen many competitor’s reports with days of “no activity” but the weather was foggy for hours) This takes some extra steps to verify if the fog at the target location is as bad as it is at the office or the investigators surveillance departure point. The pre-surveillance workup (plan of action) also helps us to determine if we should go. For example, someone whom our research indicates is believed to be working a weekend side job might need to be covered to take advantage of that opportunity despite the weather.

These are just some points to consider when that warm winter weather sometimes complicates Michigan surveillance.

Mild Michigan Weather Makes Winter Claims Surveillance Payoff

January 12th, 2017

The mild Michigan weather makes winter claims surveillance payoff for many clients. As we work into mid-January, we have had an strong demand for Michigan claims surveillance at a time that would normally be much colder and potentially less productive. Although we have had several truly cold days and several days of ice or snow that cancelled school and tangled traffic, in comparison to prior years, this has overall been a very active time for claimants.

winter claims surveillance

Great weather to skate and be filmed!

So far this year our surveillance team has had numerous days activity with people outside living life almost like they would in the fall. The lack of heavy snow and ice has also created some great opportunities to get footage of people shopping, exercising, eating lunch outside and taking down holiday decorations. When we did get snow thus far, the majority of the clearing activities were done in the daytime and many of the claimants were not bundled up to the point of being unrecognizable making for some truly telling video.

If you have a Michigan claim that could benefit from claims surveillance, don’t wait, call us today and take advantage of this opportunity.

Holiday Season Casualty Claimant Surveillance

December 21st, 2016

Holiday season casualty claimant surveillance poses unique challenges and exceptional opportunities to observe a claimant’s true abilities.

Someone involved in a casualty insurance claim alleging that they are injured is, like the rest of us, caught up in holiday season and all that it entails. What is undeniable is that, even for those who don’t celebrate, this time of year changes everyone’s lives and activities. Businesses have limited hours, schools are closed, traffic is nothing short of nightmarish, parties are held, family is traveling and visiting, shopping takes twice as long, etc., etc., etc. This makes the season inescapable. So what does that mean for casualty claimant surveillance?

First and foremost, it means that people are distracted and almost always have many things to do. Life is not normal even if you are injured. For those with a legitimate injury, you end up relying on others to help. things have to get done, but if you are not physically up to the tasks, you get assistance. Someone drives you, someone else puts out the decorations, you miss some parties, your PT schedule changes and the like. These are the types of things one would expect to see.

Of course, if you are embellishing your injury, you tend to get caught up in the holiday madness and you do far more than your legitimately injured counterparts.

Strictly from a casualty claimant surveillance perspective, this means lots of great opportunities to get people being overly active. It also means fighting lots of holiday traffic during mobile surveillance (which is a challenge on a good day) and it can also mean setting up on an empty house more often than usual. The good news is, agencies like Sherlock, who have exceptional pre-surveillance planning capabilities are able to mitigate many of those risks and give you exceptionally meaningful casualty claimant surveillance results.

If you have a claim that may benefit from from some holiday season casualty claimant surveillance, please call us today!

Optimizing Casualty Surveillance

July 18th, 2016

In the most recent edition of the Michigan Chapter of IASIU’s newsletter, our Dan Klimek and Brian Coykendall, both subject matter experts in the area of surveillance and proper insurance claims investigations, authored an exceptional piece on three simple ways of optimizing casualty surveillance opportunities on insurance claims in Michigan. The article focuses on video clarity, video stability and proper surveillance positioning and how to maximize all three of these vital elements of great surveillance. We encourage you to give it a read and enjoy the benefits of optimizing casualty surveillance on your claims. Here is the newsletter url:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2zip0DMWleId3A0MmVVUWFjdEk/view

Sherlock Investigations is recognized as the leader in providing superior casualty surveillance investigations for the insurance defense community in Michigan. Each case entails a sophisticated plan of action, based on known, verified facts, newly developed intelligence and precise asset selection to give our clients consistently better results than other investigative providers.

Brian Coykendall is the Lead Surveillance Investigator at Sherlock Investigations. Brian is not only a seasoned expert at conducting surveillance, he is also the lead trainer for the surveillance teams and works on improving surveillance processes and reducing related risks.

Daniel Klimek, MS – Intelligence Analysis, is the Investigations Manager at Sherlock Investigations. Dan has planned and overseen thousands of surveillance operations and works directly with both the investigators and clients to design  investigations for optimal outcomes.

The Importance of Verifying Where a Claimant Lives Before Initiating Surveillance

July 14th, 2016

The Importance of Verifying Where a Claimant Lives Before Initiating Surveillance

In Michigan, the overwhelming majority of private investigation agencies that conduct insurance claims related surveillance have the same business model: use the lowest possible cost investigators to conduct the surveillance and use an administrative person to “set up” the cases and make the decisions on the when, where, whats of the investigation. Some advertise that they only use law enforcement personnel to conduct their surveillance, but this is almost always a part time side job for those employees, and again they are the cheapest available. This translate to no real advantage from using these people, many of who know nothing about insurance claims or surveillance without a badge and team of backup.

The one must consider who is actually planning and managing the surveillance. This is usually left to a clerical staff person who is trained to run some generic databases and instructed to schedule the maximum amount of time the client has budgeted for the case. Now comes the tricky part. If any of the information provided by the client or the private investigator’s databases proves to be false or outdated, then they rack up a $ 2,000 bill for you with no actual chance of seeing the claimant. Do you really want the person who does the invoicing, answers the phone, orders office supplies and takes out the trash designing and managing your surveillance? This is not intentional, it is simply what this model produces, and ever vanilla, cookie cutter agency works the same way.

At Sherlock, we have a different model. One that consistently produces superior surveillance results. We have full time, professional investigators in the field, who are supported by actual full time skip tracers who understand the importance of verifying where a claimant lives before initiating surveillance.

If you are not a Sherlock client, we encourage you to contact our team and learn more about how we can make you look better.

6 Tips for More Successful Summer Casualty Surveillance in Michigan

June 28th, 2016

6 Tips for More Successful Summer Casualty Surveillance in Michigan

Use these six tips to get the most out of summer time casualty surveillance of claimants in Michigan.

  1. Use an investigative agency that creates a plan of action before they do anything else. A Surveillance plan of action is an essential part of conducting an effective casualty surveillance.
  2. Confirm IME time and location. In the summer, physicians like to compress their schedule and will often move an IME appointment time to help get the doc out of the office and out on the golf course. Always request that the IME clinic not move the scheduled appointment, and verify it again.
  3. Watch the weather. When Michigan weather gets sketchy, people change their behavior and that can impact the surveillance. Some investigators want to work no matter what the weather conditions. Don’t use those firms.
  4. Use summer holidays to your advantage and the days before them to get more activity.
  5. Monitor the social media of immediate family members to identify potential activity like vacations, sports and entertainment attendance and gatherings. These days and the dates prior to can be great opportunities.
  6. Know about road construction in the area before undertaking surveillance. Construction avoidance can make mobile surveillance difficult.

Sherlock Investigations is a leader in casualty surveillance for the insurance industry. If you are considering surveillance in Michigan this summer, please contact one of our team to discuss how we can get plan the right surveillance for your case.