Insurance in the news again for not paying claims
I was genuinely surprised at just how many people contacted me following an article on News.com.au regarding a claim which had allegedly been denied, if the article is to be believed, on the meta data time stamp on digital photographs. To review the article please click here.
What the Insured is claiming is that the meta data time stamp is incorrect and does not support the claim. On my understanding of the matter the Insured has shown that the insurer’s allegations are not correct as he did not own the phone when they state the photos are data stamped.
As the article rightly points out digital evidence is very easy to manipulate… for example if I was to change the date on your phone or computer to 1/1/1980 and saved a jpeg image it would display that image file as “created on the 1/1/1980”…
Some services like google drive and dropbox can modify the date created to the date you chose to upload it to the service.
Image files like RAW carry more information called EXIF data. This CAN contain data like GPS location, date, time, who took the shot etc which could help in a case like this.
Below is an example of the data that is automatically captured when a photograph is captured on a modern digital camera when it is saved in RAW and you can see it is much more than just the date.
But even with this (cropped image) I know for a fact that the date is incorrect on this one as I did not change the time zone on the camera from my home town to the location that I took the photo.
It is getting to the stage where you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
If as a claims adjuster you go to someone’s home and they have a photograph of all their jewelry sitting on the bed along with cash etc as proof of ownership, this can be regarded as a red flag as the client is setting up the claim in advance.
If on the other hand they have no photographic proof you again can get suspicious as they have no proof they owned the goods they claim unless they keep all their receipts etc which the reality is most of us do not.
Considering that all photographic evidence is fallible to a certain degree I believe that putting extra onus on the insuring public to take measures like physical date stamping, holding newspapers in shot or other such nonsense is going too far and going back to the basic principle of utmost good faith, unless there is clear evidence that a) the burglary as reported did not take place during the period of insurance and or that b) the Insured did not lose items in the burglary, the insurer should give the benefit of the doubt to the insured when as would appear here they have been able to prove the assertion is not correct.
As with any news report you only get part of the story and there may be much more to the claim than is being reported. If however, the only thing that this insurer is relying on is the meta data stamp I feel the Insured is being harshly treated in having both their claim denied in full and their policy cancelled which will require them to notify all future insurers that they have had their policy cancelled. On this basis I hope it is not a case of delay, deny, defend.
If the claim is genuine they certainly need to have the matter adjudicated and their reputation re-established and their financial loss indemnified.
If the denial is established to be incorrect then brand insurance will once again be damaged unnecessarily. If on the other hand there is evidence that the claim is not genuine then of course the claim should be denied as the cost to the community for insurance fraud is too high.
I will certainly be watching the final outcome with great interest.