Facebook used to deny insurance

Insurance company uses Facebook

Facebook users know that information posted on the Internet can become public. You can put your setting at "private" and this should give you protection from others seeing information you prefer to limit. The question is, did Nathalie Blanchard actually set her page as private? If she did not then the information is public and insurance companies have access, along with everyone else.

Nathalie Blanchard is a woman residing in the province of Quebec. She is on long-term sick leave. Photos of her enjoying the sun and the sand, going out in the evenings and having parties which she posted on Facebook have cost her the benefits she was receiving. We're talking thousands of dollars that she has now lost.

About a year and a half ago, Blanchard left her job at IBM in Bromont, Quebec, due to her inability to work due to depression, and the monthly benefit paid by Manulife Insurance Company was triggered.

Of course, Blanchard says that going out now and again does not mean that one is no longer depressed. In fact, Blanchard stated that her doctor suggested that she do some recreational activities, to help her reduce the time she spends worried and depressed.

Manulife has stated that their investigation was not entirely based on the Facebook pictures. Manulife did admit that it does use Facebook to investigate its clients.

Blanchard has hired a lawyer, Tom Lavin who has requested a psychiatric evaluation of his client. Lavin is exploring the possiblities in this case, as there has not been an evaluation done of his client. What evidence the insurance company has other then the Facebook evidence, has not been brought to light.

Lavin may also sue IBM as well as Manulife. When Blanchard's benefits were cut off last month, she contacted her insurance company to find out why. She was told by a company representative that her pictures on Facebook show that she is capable of returning to work.

Insurance companies are facing a high percentage of fraud cases. Whatever information is presented to the insurer, has to be investigated. The civil authorities such as the police, will use the Internet and Facebook to help them in criminal investigations.

In British Columbia, a case involving Mirae Mayenburg, showed her cycling and hiking on her Facebook page. This information was used against her, when she claimed that injuries from a car accident left her unable to enjoy her usual recreational activities.

If Nathalie Blanchard is found to be cured of her depression, then what happens next? It appears to be a question of ethics. If you receive a benefit for injury or disability, then you stop taking payment when you are healed. You go back to work and go on from there. You have had the time to recover, and now can go back to being a fully contributing employee.

If Blanchard is found to still be unable to work, then what has this cost her? It is likely to cause further depression, and might possibly result in a much longer time on the disability payroll.

Manulife Insurance Company should not be paying out benefits to someone who doesn't need them. Every business has an obligation to its shareholders, to act in a prudent manner. At the same time, it causes some concern to know that insurance companies can and do investigate you.

Blanchard is not alone with being indiscreet. Janine Kreiber, wife of former Liberal leader Stephane Dion, made some uncomplimentary remarks on her Facebook page in regards to Michael Ignatieff, current leader of the Liberal Party. The remarks were removed very quickly.