The case of the clueless insurance adjuster

A blog entry details the plight of Nathalie Blanchard, a 29-year-old IBM employee from Quebec.

As the story goes, Nathalie took a long-term sick leave from her job due to depression. Following the advice of her doctor, she took a vacation to get away from her problems. Then one day, her monthly sick-leave benefits quit coming in. Nathalie’s call to Manulife, the insurance company which handles her benefits, had the most surprising of answers: based upon pictures posted to Facebook, the company had reached a conclusion that she was once again fit to work.

Well, not surprisingly, Manulife’s version, filtered through their PR department, is different:

According to CBC news, the insurer has confirmed that they do indeed use Facebook to investigate their clients, but the company claims that it wouldn’t “deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook”.

It is obvious to me that whoever made this decision is at best uneducated about depression. I have had friends who suffer from depression and the appearance of happiness in one moment is far from any indication that one is “cured” of depression. It’s not that simple. Notwithstanding the fact that the photographs document that Nathalie followed the doctors orders, I have to wonder what the heck the people at Manulife could have been thinking here.

Indeed, it makes no more sense to make this judgment than it does to take a picture of an insomniac appearing to be sleeping and present that as evidence the person is “cured,” as alluded to later in the article. Whoever said “common sense isn’t so common anymore” was definitely on to something.