RSS

Archive for June, 2011

Colorado Private Investigators Influenced Anti-Surveillance Bill

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Since its inception in late 2009, Advanced Private Investigations, a Colorado based agency, stood firmly against HB10-1012. API took on the roles of educators and opposed this proposed law, which would have seriously impinged upon both the effective management of worker’s compensation claims and the safety of Colorado surveillance investigators. API’s investigators were at the Capitol in Denver during this legislative processes, seeking to not only urge the representatives to vote ‘no’ on this bill, but to put a face to those people this bill would adversely affect.

It was an uphill battle. Educating the legislators as to what investigators do, how surveillance investigations are conducted, and why this measure was unnecessary was not an easy task. Furthermore, misinformed legislators were led astray by sensationalistic and likely exaggerated tales of private investigator misconduct, erroneous statistics and a misunderstanding of surveillance itself. The emotive result proved effective- the amendment bill made its way through the House and into the Senate before it was indefinitely suspended.

API lobbied and testified alongside allies such as the Colorado Self Insurers’ Association, the Workers’ Compensation Coalition, Pinnacol, the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado and other investigators, insurance groups, and business groups.

API realized the severe impact this bill would have had on the Insurance Claims industry. HB10-1012 was being closely watched by other states and could have been used as a template to limit surveillance and investigations in the use of insurance claims in other states. In the end, our voices united to put a stop to this bill, proving that taking action is the best way to effectively direct the outcome of legislation.

The Anti-Surveillance Bill’s Influence on Colorado PI Licensing

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Efforts to restore licensing to Colorado private investigators are not new. It is one of the founding principles of the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado since PI licensing was repealed in the 70’s. There have been several attempts by PPIAC to restore licensing to Colorado. That is well known to Colorado private investigators.

What many private investigators are not aware of is a piece of legislation that was introduced in 2010. HB10-1012 would have been devastating to the investigations profession in Colorado and would have been a major threat across the country. HB1012 attempted to limit surveillance across the board that could be conducted for Colorado worker’s compensation and other insurance claims. Surveillance for these cases is merely a way to help verify or disprove a claim. Private investigators were accused of trespassing, harassment, stalking, violating people’s privacy, etc. In the end, legislators, claimants, privacy advocates, and other proponents of this piece of legislation had NO proof of these accusations. Not a single charge of harassment or stalking, no documentation indicating trespassing or invasion of privacy, not even a single police report.

Some private investigators did not want to get involved, but PPIAC felt it was important to hire its own lobbyist to defeat this bill. Because this bill would have had an immediate and dramatic affect on the surveillance investigtations specialty as a whole, PPIAC was heavily involved.

Though it seems HB10-1012 would have only affected surveillance in the use of worker’s compensation cases, it’s very likely the law would have been hijacked to affect all surveillance. It could have then been hijacked even further to limit other forms of investigations.

The progress of HB1012 was being watched across the country because it would have set a detrimental precedence that other state legislators, privacy groups, etc. would have used as a template. In fact, the National Council of Investigative and Security Services has to continuously fight these types of privacy bills. NCISS often mentions that the biggest threat to private investigators are the privacy bills that are being introduced over and over.

During discussions involving HB1012, PPIAC asked Colorado legislators what could be done to ease concerns to those who introduced and supported the bill. The topic of licensing came up. Several private investigators mentioned that past attempts had been made, and each time licensing attempts were immediately killed during committee. Some legislators mentioned that maybe this was the time for private investigators to introduce another bill. A couple of legislators mentioned that a bill might be introduced regardless if PPIAC took part or not. PPIAC’s concern was if Colorado legislators introduced a bill, the industry has less say in the bill’s drafting points.

PPIAC knew that it had to work on a licensing bill to introduce in 2011. This bill would have to not only be beneficial for the industry as a whole, but it had to be successful. When HB11-1195 was initially introduced, it provided for ‘public’ records access, and maintaining of records access, to licensed private investigators.  The records access portion was removed due to concerns that keeping records access in the bill could cause the bill to be killed. Once removed, the bill wiped out a significant portion of the opposition.

Every PPIAC member involved in this process helped draft HB11-1195 to benefit the profession not just now but for decades to come. The newly signed law will be a benefit to any private investigator regardless of the past career of the PI. HB1195 is a paradigm shifting licensing bill. Rather than eliminating those who cannot obtain a license as mandatory programs do, and then attempting to police the industry to prevent unlicensed PI activity, HB1195 simply highlights those who have been vetted and qualified by the state of Colorado. It can be used as yet another credential, similar to becoming a Certified Legal Investigator, Certified Financial Investigator or Certified Fraud Examiner.

Colorado Private Investigator License Signed Into Law

Friday, June 10th, 2011

In the afternoon of Friday, June 10, 2011, the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado received an email from Colorado Senator and bill sponsor Linda Newell. June 10th was the last day for Governor John Hickenlooper to make a decision on several bills. HB11-1195 was in the mix with those bills. The Governor could either sign the bill, veto it, or not sign it. If it was not signed, it would still become law. In the final tense hours of the business day, HB1195 was FINALLY signed into law!!!! PPIAC, and all Colorado investigators for that matter who have long desired to obtain a license can breathe a big sigh of relief.

The Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado has been involved in over 30 years of efforts to restore licensing, only to face defeat after defeat. HB 11-1195 specifically has been at least a 1 1/2 year long effort. Decades of efforts, plannings, meetings, phone calls, sunrise studies, drafting of bills, fund raising, lobbying, contacting legislators, testifying, etc. have all culminated in today’s signing. I want to thank all Colorado PI licensing proponents for their support. Today’s historic achievement could not have happened without the strength in numbers of Colorado investigators, as well as the support of our fellow professional colleagues across the country! Private investigators interested in obtaining their Colorado licenses will now anxiously await for the licensing program to be implemented in 2012.

Professionalism and the Colorado Insurance Claims Investigator

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Advanced Professional Investigations seeks to actively educate the public about the necessary role insurance claims investigators play in worker’s compensation surveillance.  Professional and ethical investigators report only facts.  They have no bias in the case.  Professional investigators are mindful of the legalities and understand how to conduct surveillance investigations in ways that are unintrusive. Professional investigators maintain continuous education and training to remain compliant with laws affecting the investigative profession.

API believes the negative perception of  private investigations and its use in worker’s compensation cases stems from the fact that Colorado, until recently, was one of the very few remaining states that did not offer licenses to Colorado private investigators.  To this effect, it is very possible that an insurance claims investigator hired by an insurance company may well have no investigative experience whatsoever.  With no Colorado PI licensing program, it was possible that many of the untrained investigators were naive in the laws, techniques and ethics, which not only could result in a fraudulent or exaggerated claim not being mitigated, but could cause the subject of the investigation unnecessary distress.  API is licensed in Utah and Kansas and is one of the many ways we remain a leader in the private investigative profession. Large national private investigative firms coax insurance companies into signing long term contracts to provide investigative services. Many of these nationwide firms have a reputation of using inexperienced private investigators to claim a presence in Colorado Springs and Denver if not all of Colorado.  How many cases have been lost due to inexperience and unintentional mistakes?

The solution, then, is not to regulate the surveillance conducted on behalf of worker’s compensation or insurance claims agent, but to grant licensure to the private investigative industry in Colorado.  Everyone involved will benefit with the vetting, education and training that will allow clients the opportunity to ensure professional private investigators conduct the serious business of worker’s compensation and other insurance claims investigations.