The Power of Desktop Investigation in Insurance Injury Claims

January 3, 2024
Man conducting a desktop investigation on laptop

The Power of Desktop Investigation in Insurance Injury Claims 

A successful insurance injury claim investigation relies not only on results but also on efficiency and accuracy throughout the process. Like any project, a successful investigation begins with planning to define the scope and required activities.  

An essential planning component is the desktop investigation. In its simplest form, desktop investigation uses digital access to obtain decision making information to assist with the claim adjusting process.  

Desktop investigation serves as the starting point for most inquiries. Investigators leverage this opportunity to acquire as much information as possible. Based on experience, desktop investigation proves highly useful, especially when subjects or evidence are geographically dispersed, located remotely, or abroad. This can eliminate unnecessary travel, reducing costs, resources, and time.  

In some cases, desktop investigation alone resolves matters. In others, desktop inquiries uncover critical details requiring further examination.  Often, desktop investigations produce information that supplements other investigation types such as surveillance or interviews. 

The Value of Document Review 

During desktop investigation, we conduct several activities. Document review is particularly important.  

Contrary to some perspectives, document review constitutes more than a supplementary activity. Fieldwork often takes priority, but document analysis can effectively guide evidence collection. It determines whether field investigation is warranted.  

An illustrative case involved a claimant that alleged that he was unable to work due to a back injury sustained when he was lifting a box in a warehouse during his workday.  The desktop investigation found that he had been involved in a prior physical altercation unrelated to his job two years earlier that resulted in a civil court lawsuit where he alleged serious physical injuries that included his back and spine.  The investigator was able to review and obtain certified copies of the actual court documents showing this prior history of a back injury that had previously been unreported as part of the current insurance claim.  The evidence in the civil court file was instrumental in the handling of the work-related injury insurance claim. 

Leveraging Social Media for Data Collection 

Desktop investigation also involves social media searches. Social media offers a treasure trove of subject information, especially useful for skip tracing.  

One case sought to locate a relevant witness to a high value insurance claim where the witness was critical to understanding the facts of the claim. Our team obtained the witnesses’ last known address and parents’ names from authorities but received information the family had moved from the address long ago. At an impasse, we searched social media using interview-derived details.  

While finding no matching profiles for the witness, we discovered associated family member social media accounts. Narrowing our search to a close relative’s images, we eventually linked to a business account posting an event attended by relatives including the witness we were looking for. A photo emerged, locating the witness a short distance from the initial address and affiliated with the business. Correspondence with the business confirmed the witness’ current employment and provided address and contact information, ultimately resolving the case.  

In Conclusion: 

These examples demonstrate desktop investigations’ ability to efficiently and cost-effectively locate evidence or narrow investigations’ focus through document review and social media analysis. A well-executed desktop phase sets the foundation for a successful inquiry. 

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