Skip to content

A Storm Is Coming & Why Surveillance Vendors Are Scared


The Storm

When a client assigns surveillance on a subject, they are looking for results.  Results can vary from confirming that a subject is actually hurt or obtaining evidence suggesting that the subject is exaggerating or faking the injury.  The only way to reach a conclusion is to document and surveil the person in question. The surveillance company that produces the most film on a consistent basis is the most valuable to your investigations.  This seems like a simple concept, but the majority of companies assigning surveillance are not keeping track of how their surveillance vendors are performing.

If you are someone who is in a position to assign surveillance, ask yourself this; how many minutes of film are my vendors averaging per case?  If you are not sure, I recommend looking back at your results from the past year.   You may be unpleasantly surprised with the lack of minutes your current vendor has obtained.  Surveillance is a complicated business and in order to obtain results on a consistent basis a company has to be disciplined.  Unfortunately, not all surveillance companies run disciplined investigations which ultimately hurt the claim.

A few of the larger Third Party Administrators have started to shift to this mode of thinking.  It is realized that in order to give clients the best service they have to have the best vendors conducting the investigations.  Tracking results is not a new concept.  A Fitbit can track how many steps a person takes or how long someone has been sleeping, but tracking surveillance vendors seems to be a rarity rather than the norm. Only recently has this become a more common practice.


Why This Scares Surveillance Vendors

Historically, surveillance vendors stay on a vendor panel until they really foul up a case.  It is easier to stick with a company you recognize then to venture out and try to decipher who is good or bad. You could spend hours online looking at different websites of surveillance vendors and with their similar verbiage it is hard to tell them apart.  The information available on the vendors is brief. They are ALL guarded on how they do their business, and most offer the same services.  There is nothing to differentiate one vendor from another until now.

When surveillance results are tracked and quantified, it is impossible for surveillance vendors to hide how they actually perform.  They may talk a big game, but when it comes down to it they may be averaging much less in terms of film as their direct competition. Once you start comparing stats from vendor to vendor, you may realize that you CAN get results with surveillance – but you just need to use the right company.

If tracking results is something you are considering doing, these are the two most important categories to get you started.

  1. How many minutes of film of the subject is the vendor obtaining per case?
  2. What percent of the cases that the vendor worked resulted in film of the subject?

Other very important performance criteria to examine are:

  • How many minutes of covert film obtained per case?
  • Was the case compromised (Made)?
  • How many lost tails?
  • Was your invoice billed correctly?
  • Were the case objectives met?

The aforementioned categories will open Pandora’s box and change the way you look at your current vendors.  This may be bad news for some of the companies on your vendor list.  Most national surveillance companies do not issue customized surveillance vehicles to their agents.   Since they do not issue out surveillance vehicles, there is no way to GPS their agents to know if they are even at a case. They have little to no training for new agents, and do not have a full time recruiter to find qualified candidates. If a case is assigned results are to be expected; but without those building blocks you are probably not receiving the BEST results.


Dare To Compare

We have conducted thousands of manned surveillance cases (not counting remote) in the 2nd quarter of 2017.  Of those cases we have averaged 29.6 minutes of film per case.  We also have obtained film of the subject 78% of the time.  In short, if you assigned 1,000 surveillance cases with us in the 2nd quarter of this year, you would have received film of the subject on 780 of those cases with an average of 29.6 minutes per film.

We would love to see you compare those numbers with your current vendors, and let us know how we compare.  You may be surprised with what you find!


John Wichmann

Head of Research & Development at PhotoFax, Inc.