Former police officers from across NSW have taken the unusual step of giving the Mercury access to private investigation photos in response to an insurance company’s assertion that it uses surveillance ‘‘selectively and sparingly’’ in dealing with their claims.
Global insurer MetLife issued a statement in response to claims by Slater and Gordon principal lawyer John Cox that its private investigators were aggressive and relentless when tailing police officers suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.
‘‘MetLife uses surveillance selectively and sparingly and only where it has concerns about the legitimacy of a claim,’’ it said in the statement.
‘‘When doing so we conform to recognised industry standards, ensuring privacy is respected and that the surveillance is relevant, targeted and discreet.’’
MetLife rejected any suggestion that it would knowingly engage in illegal or unethical practices, adding it always sought to pay legitimate claims quickly and fairly.
‘‘It is important to note that unmeritorious claims result in the passing on of premium increases, which is unfair for other members and unsustainable in the long run,’’ it said.
Mr Cox, who heads Slater and Gordon’s police compensation group, said the January 15 statement issued to the Mercury was surprising.
‘‘I reject outright, citing MetLife’s reference to unmeritorious claims, that any of these matters lack merit or are in any way fraudulent,’’ Mr Cox said.
‘‘It is a disgrace to suggest that all of my clients featured in this story are the subject of concerns by MetLife about the legitimacy of their claims.
‘‘Given the overwhelming majority of my clients have been surveilled by MetLife, that quote is deeply offensive to those men and women.
‘‘The response from my former police clients to this statement was overwhelming and accordingly I reviewed our files and after obtaining consent, provided these photos from MetLife’s private investigation reports to the Mercury,’’ he said.
‘‘It should be noted however that these photos do not represent all of the surveillance reports for all of my clients because it was simply logistically impossible to provide them all.
’’I really think the photos speak for themselves in illustrating not only the futility of surveilling people with psychiatric disorders but also the ridiculous and malicious lengths that these private investigators have gone to discredit genuine claimants.’’