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How Social Media Could Impact Your Insurance

Over the course of the past decade, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. However, when you think about posting to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you probably don't consider how it could affect your insurance. The truth is, social media could very well become a standard part of the insurance underwriting process in the not too distant future.

In the last half-century, insurance companies began policies knowing very little about their clients. But in this new technological era, they have evolved and begun to persistently seek new and different ways to revise their rating structures. Especially with the advent of mileage devices that report driving habits and other customer data to the insurer, increasingly more of what policyholders do in their daily lives is becoming privy to their insurance companies.

Ways Your Posts Could Cause Problems

The effects of social media on the insurance industry are just beginning to be felt, so it's a good time to take control of your posting habits in order to prevent future problems. Here are some things that could adversely impact your relationship with your insurer:

  • Selfies
    Taking pictures while driving and uploading them to social media could result in having your policy non-renewed based on the implication that you are a distracted driver.
     
  • Text Messages
    If you share screen shots of text conversations that allude to the fact you were texting while driving, this could cost you big. Especially if you were involved in an accident around the timestamp of the conversation in question, an Insurer may deny your claim or list you as at-fault.
     
  • Geotagging
    Many people aren't even aware that the geotagging setting on their phone's camera is switched on. Unfortunately, it could put your home at risk while you're away on vacation. In the event of a break-in, an insurance company may claim negligence on your part if they find photos uploaded to social media with geotags.
     
  • Relationships
    Maybe you've just gone through a divorce and don't have the heart to change your relationship status yet, or you're just living with a partner but feel like they're your spouse. In either instance, your insurer may demand that you add the significant other listed on social media to your policy. Some states require both spouses to be named on an automobile policy, so your relationship status may cause them to suspect that you have an uninsured driver in your household.
     
  • Pets
    Perhaps you forgot to notify your insurance company that you got a new dog or you weren't aware that they needed to know. Either way, certain breeds could result in the cancellation of your policy if your insurer discovers that you have a dog from your social media posts.
     
  • Bad Habits
    You've given up smoking, but it used to be a big part of your life and there are plenty of pictures on your Facebook of you enjoying a cigarette. Since you've given up the habit, you were able to proudly tell the agent writing your life insurance that you don't smoke. But wait, your social media seems to say otherwise. Should your life insurance company see your profile, you may be in for a rate increase since your policy was written for a non-smoker.

How Insurers Are Using Social Media Now

The majority of insurance companies are using social media mostly for marketing purposes although a few have already begun to search for customer information. Fortunately, there is currently no indication that you'll need to give up your social media account information to your insurance company any time soon. In fact, many of the ways insurers are using information from social media are good news for you.

Whenever a claim is filed and suspicious of fraud are aroused, an investigation is launched. Thanks to social media platforms like Facebook, insurance adjusters now have a new avenue in which they can research the parties involved in the claim. There have been instances of people attempting to commit insurance fraud but were thwarted due to their social media posts. Since insurance fraud raises premiums, it's a good thing to be prevented. Less fraud means better premiums and that's good news for you.

Tips to Protect Yourself

There's no need to fear that you'll get a letter from your insurance company saying that your policy has been cancelled due to something you said or did on a social media account. Use this tips to safeguard your online identity against a possible retort from an insurer:

  • Check your privacy settings
    Try to make the majority of your posts viewable only by friends as much as possible. This way if there is anything that could be misinterpreted on your profile, you won't have to worry about an insurer seeing it since your profile is only viewable by friends.

     

  • Turn off geotagging
    Go into your camera settings and see if geotagging is switched "on," if so, turn it off so that your coordinates aren't attached to the photos you take. Since any public photo with an attached geotag could tell a potential burglar that you aren't home or what expensive gifts you received, you could be increasing your risk of a break-in.

     

  • Never omit information when obtaining insurance
    As a general rule, it's best to be as upfront and honest as possible with your agent. Usually something that could work against you can be managed when the policy is started, but insurers are more likely to cancel or non-renew your policy if they discover that you have been untruthful about your insurability.

     

    Although insurance companies are not currently using social media as a standard component of underwriting, that day may be coming much sooner than you would expect. Be prepared and safeguard your social media accounts against anything that could be misconstrued by a potential insurer. Always be honest with your insurance agent and never withhold pertinent information. As long as you are ethical in your actions towards your insurance company, you should never have any reason to worry that your social media posts may come back to haunt you.