Insurance claims are no one’s cup of tea as it is. However, when an insurance claim becomes a nightmare it is something which never truly is forgotten.
Jaclyn Bentley went through insurance claim nightmare, and it was Big Brother – in the form of cellphone tower data – that sent her across the River Styx.
It took Bentley almost three years to prove she wasn’t responsible for burning down her house to collect on her insurance policy, and the allegations arose from her insurer analyzing cellphone tower data to disprove her claim.
According to Bentley, as she and her husband were camping miles from her Iowa home back in May of 2014, her house burned down.
It was then that an investigator for State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. said there was proof, garnered from cell phone tower data, that her phone was just 5 to 12 miles from the couple’s campsite just after the fire was reported. The investigator then suggested that she may have been heading back to the site – after starting the blaze.
From there, it got seriously ugly. Bentley’s claim was denied, she was arrested on arson – and insurance fraud – charges.
After much legal wrangling, she was acquitted after challenging the insurer’s analysis of the tower data. Her home is still as yet unpaid for and she has a lawsuit pending against State Farm regarding her claim.
Bentley told the Associated Press that her experience left her shaken and disillusioned.
“I’ve gone through … hell,” says Bentley. “It’s ridiculous what happened. You’re innocent until proven guilty. I’ve never felt like I was treated like I was innocent. As far as the insurance company was concerned, I was guilty.”
A spokesperson for State Farm said the company handles “each claim on its merits” and conducts “a diligent investigation to determine what we owe” under a policy. The spokesperson added that investigations might involve reviewing phone records but that it’s rare when they obtain those records.
Phone records, including those transmitted by cell phone towers, can only be obtained through a court order or with a customer’s consent.