Request By Insurance Company To Sign a Release
Request By Insurance Company To Sign a Release?
If you are injured by the negligence of another party and make a claim for medical expense, loss of past and future 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. It is very important that you read and understand the language and terms of the Release. It is not recommended that you JUST SIGN IT AND SEND IT BACK.
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.
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.
In New Mexico, the insurance company representatives are not legally entitled to talk to your doctor or health care provider about your medical issues or your claim unless you agree in writing. Talking to your doctor without you or your lawyer present is NOT allowed unless you agree to let them do so.
Here is an example of language that appeared in the releases from one of the large auto 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 example 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."
While you need to cooperate with the insurance company as part of the claims process, you certainly do not want this information released to other insurance companies or employers for any other purpose.
We have clients sign a release specific to the medical entity where treatment was obtained that is HIPAA compliant and that is limited to just the information the law requires. Our law firm also uses employment releases, etc. and our releases limit the time and scope of the release and provide that the information can only be used for the claim you are making and must be kept private.
Confused? Call Sapien Law LLC today and schedule a free consultation. 505-842-5979.