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From the Investigator: The Seasonal Affect – Natasha

Posts Tagged ‘ surveillance ’

From the Investigator: The Seasonal Affect – Natasha

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

The Seasonal Affect

Investigator Natasha Popovska has had no trouble adjusting to the crazy ups and downs in surveillance. Natasha has an avid love for people watching, which is why she absolutely loves this job. Natasha also has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Madonna University. While at Madonna, she was the poster girl for the college’s flyers! After applying for her surveillance position on a whim, she was surprised to get a call from Sherlock, who had recognized the great talent she could bring to our company. This series aims to address the different work conditions that investigators run into throughout the year. Every day is different out in the field, and we all handle it in our own way! Let’s get to know how our second interviewee, Natasha, navigates the Great Lakes state!

 

Michigan surveillance is full of challenges. How do the climate and state conditions prepare an investigator for work adversity?

The very first thing I do when I wake up is check the weather, even before I roll out of bed. Being prepared in any sort of weather condition is one of the keys to making sure that you can be the best investigator you can be. You don’t want to stand out so that you’re easily recognizable. For example, I am constantly hot and even in the winter I just wear a sweater without a winter coat, but when I have cases during the winter I always make sure to have a hat, scarf, gloves, and coat to make myself “fit in” because you never know where the day may take you, which is another reason why I love my job.

 

What is your favorite season to do surveillance in?

My favorite season for surveillance is in the fall. It’s perfect because it’s not so cold that you feel like you’re nose is going to fall off and you don’t get too hot to the point where you absolutely have to have the air conditioner on, (the less gas you waste, the better). Also, in my opinion, people are more likely to be out and about because it’s not freezing or scorching hot, which allows for good activity for the day and makes our clients very happy; the chance of possibly having to follow someone into the cider mill makes me a happy camper as well.

 

How does your routine change with the seasons?

My absolute favorite thing about working in the spring/summer is the sun. I bought a sun blocker for your front windshield and I have my windows tinted so when I put the sun blocker in my front window, no one can see that I am sitting in my vehicle. It may sound creepy, but it allows for me to avoid the extra attention of someone who just sits in their vehicle for hours at a time without any interaction; the less attention an investigator can draw to themselves the better so that the person we are doing surveillance on does not start to become suspicious. The last thing any investigator wants is to burn a case.

 

Are there any cases that you know would have only been possible to accomplish in fair weather?

Living in Michigan where there is never a steady weather pattern and always makes for an interesting day of work. The days when surveillance is affected the most, in my opinion, is when it’s either too hot or too cold/snowing outside. No one wants to do yard work when it’s 90+ degrees outside, so some days you’re sitting in your car waiting for someone to cut the grass or plant flowers with absolutely no activity and then you’ll have people outside shoveling snow when you would think that they would be inside due to the extremely cold weather. I don’t think you can ever be 100% certain as to what will happen, so you have to be prepared for anything that gets thrown your way.  

 

How do you prepare mentally and physically for the vast changes in schedule that come with surveillance?

I prepare everything I am going to need for the workday the night before. I check the weather for the next day both before I go to sleep and again in the morning, so I am prepared for whatever nature throws my way. Making sure I get plenty of sleep the night before and coffee before I start work is the major key for me. I always have extra clothes and shoes on hand just in case my case takes a turn; the last thing you want is to be wearing oversized sweats and a baggy hoodie and then having to walk into a very prestigious restaurant. In the summer I carry flip flops, and make sure to have TONS of water on hand, even though you must drink in moderation. During the winter I carry a shovel in my trunk just in case I end up getting snowed in (makes me miss my four-wheel drive so much). Even though it’s only been a year since I have worked in this profession, I am still learning new things every day. All the investigators are great when it comes to seeking answers to questions or advice in general. The investigators in the office help a lot as well; by adding in notes we may find helpful or telling us facts we may need to know about a case before we get there, it allows for the field investigator to be better mentally and physically prepared for what the day has in store.

Warm Winter Weather Sometimes Complicates Michigan Surveillance with Fog

Thursday, 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

Thursday, 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.

The Importance of Verifying Where a Claimant Lives Before Initiating Surveillance

Thursday, 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

Tuesday, 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.

Surveillance Plan Of Action

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Does your private investigator give you an actual plan of action BEFORE they spend your money? Chances are, unless your go-to investigation agency is Sherlock Investigations, the answer is no. At Sherlock we think a little differently and a lot more frequently than most agencies. Before we commit  any of our client’s money, we develop a detailed surveillance plan of action on each surveillance assignment. We not only calculate where to be, but when to be there and which assets we need to get you meaningful, actionable video more consistently. No guess work. No lost opportunities, No fishing expeditions.

At Sherlock, surveillance is intentional.

Surveillance plan of action

To learn more about how our free, customized plans of action can enhance our claims handling and decrease the amount of time a claim is open, call Ryan Cylkowski, Dan Klimek or Brian Coykendall today.

surveillance plan of action

Is the Claimant’s Transportation Company Conducting Counter Surveillance

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

In many auto injury related casualty claims, an injured (and sometimes allegedly injured) claimant will utilize a medical transportation company to get around.  Even when they are not using a transportation company regularly, we often find the they do so specifically when attending a medical appointment, legal appointment or independent medical evaluation. What many claims examiner and defense attorneys do not consider is that the transportation drives can often get in the way. Many of these drivers only provide transportation for claimants and they know how claims work. This same group is also aware that some of their passengers are placed under surveillance by the carrier and they love this counter surveillance part of the game.

These drivers will often look for surveillance of the claimant they are transporting and will clue the claimant in on their presence. During some private investigator trade association meetings, the topic of drivers not only looking for surveillance, but of instances where they have tried to actively get a picture of the investigator or get his or her license plate are discussed.

Just as carriers monitor questionable physicians and treatment facilities, it is a great idea to keep track of instances with problem transportation service providers. This information will help your surveillance investigators to remain unnoticed and produce better surveillance results for you.

Why Most Adjusters Feel All Insurance Claims Investigators Are The Same

Friday, February 12th, 2016

The reason why most adjusters feel all insurance claims investigators are the same is because, well, they are.

Although within the PI world this is not a politically correct thing to say, the truth (albeit painful) must be told. Please understand that this is a generalization, but it holds true for most private investigative agencies. The average PI agency serving the insurance claims community is a very small business. They usually only have a handful of investigators, the majority of whom do nothing but local surveillance. They do whatever you ask. If you give them three days of authority, they do three days. They underpay their employees and often, particularly if they get busy, will subcontract someone else to do the work. They have limited resources, no intelligent processes to planning or risk management and you hope that the investigator never has to testify. In short, if you are an average adjuster, you are more likely to work with one of these types of agencies than with one who is consistently better. They almost always underwhelm, thus, the reason why most adjusters feel all insurance claims investigators are the same.

If you work in claims and are sick and tired of “the same” underwhelming work product from PIs, call Sherlock Investigations today.

Michigan Auto Insurance Fraud is a Daily Part of Life

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Michigan auto insurance fraud is a daily part of life. Many of us give little if any though to auto insurance fraud as we go about our day. If the thought comes up, it is usually when we review our auto insurance premium. Unfortunately, there is a subculture in our state of bad operators who view accidents as economic opportunities. The reaction is not “thank goodness I was not injured”, rather it is one of relief that “free mailbox money” is on the way. As one of Michigan’s premier auto insurance fraud investigation agencies, we document it every day. From the claimant who insists she cannot work and needs household replacement services who goes out dancing for three hours to the claimant who alleges to be equally as limited who posts on Facebook that they will getting “big money” from their accident.

Michigan auto insurance fraud

One of the most interesting elements of Michigan auto insurance fraud is that everyday people who normally would not think about committing fraud dive in when they are involved in an accident and coached on the possibilities of quick money without any negative consequences. A great example of the Michigan auto insurance fraud was covered in the Bridge magazine. This story gives a great example of how this “victim-less” crime is so prevalent.

Preparing for Surveillance

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Preparing for surveillance isn’t just about making sure you have a full tank of gas and a fully charged camera.  For a field investigator, the preparation starts before the next assignment is even received.  In talking with industry veterans at Sherlock Investigations about their preparation for various field assignments, one thing is clear; they like to have lots of gear with them at all times.  Multiple changes of clothing for any event are a must, from formal attire, golf gear, bowling shoes, gym shorts, club wear along with different color shirts and hats – all to maintain the ability to not only blend in, but also continuously change their appearance during an outing.  The idea is to be prepared for wherever a claimant may go so that optimal footage can be obtained.  Surveillance vehicles are the live-in offices of these skilled investigators and they each know that the more prepared they are, the better chance they have at obtaining that case closing video.