.Why you don't just sign the releases an insurance company sends you
What to consider before you sign a release of any type information: What the release covers; how long it lasts; what can be done with the information and with whom it may be shared.
Why not just sign it?Don't sign any release without reading it carefully or consulting an attorney. Why? Most of these releases do not protect the confidentiality of your personal information. Most of these releases allow the company unlimited information.
Your medical records are protected under federal law by HIPAA the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. A Third Party, like an insurance company, needs your permission to obtain these confidential records.
While the company may be entitled to certain relevant information, most of these releases are very broad and not limited to just your information about the injuries claimed from one accident. The same is true for your employment information.
What it covers and what it doesn't.If you are injured by the negligence of another and make a claim for medical expense, lost income or pain and suffering you will likely be asked to sign a records release. The insurance company will usually ask for a release for medical records and employment records. DON'T JUST SIGN IT AND SEND IT BACK!
The insurance company investigators are NOT entitled to talk to your doctor about your health or your claim unless you agree. Talking to your doctor without you or your lawyer present is NOT allowed unless you agree to let them do so.
The insurance companies will use the information to investigate your claimed damages but will typically NOT agree to keep your medical or wage information private.
Here is a clip from one of the releases from one of the big car insurance companies:
"This authorization also permits my medical providers to discuss in person, by telephone, electronically, or by mail, medical options, conclusions, treatment plans and other information"
As you can see this release lets the insurance company claims investigator talk to your doctors, not just get medical records. Once they get information this release lets them share it with anyone for any purpose. Here is another clip from the same insurance company release:
"This information may also be released to other insurance companies for their use in connection with insurance transactions or as required or permitted by law. Information obtained pursuant to this authorization may later be re-disclosed and may not be protected under the HIPAA privacy rule."