UPDATED: May 21, 2020
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|Summary Details||From the Experts...|
|As of 2019, 79% of the U.S. population had at least one social media profile||Pew Research|
|Insurance companies in New York and some other states have legal rights to use social media as a way to adjust rates||Forbes|
|Activities like smoking and high-risk hobbies like horseback riding or skydiving can increase life insurance rates||NAIC|
|Home burglaries occur every 23 seconds||FBI|
|78% of polled burglars admitted to using social media to target homes||Intelligence for Your Life|
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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, Instagram, or other platforms, you probably don’t consider how it could affect your insurance.
The truth is, homeowners insurance and social media are now linked.
Social media could very well become a standard part of the insurance underwriting process in the not too distant future and have an affect on filing homeowners insurance claims and auto insurance claims.
Use your ZIP code to get a free quote on insurance before you read on.
Insurance Companies and Social Media
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 with Insurance
According to the Pew Research Center, over 72 percent of U.S. residents maintain at least one social media profile, which means those same people have some amount of easily-accessible data they’ve put on the internet.`
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.
Read through the next several sections to learn more about things that could adversely impact your relationship with your insurer.
Can selfies negatively impact my insurance?
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.
Can text messages negatively impact my insurance?
If you share screen shots of text conversations that allude to the fact you were texting while driving, this could cost you big.
This is true regardless of the cell phone laws in your state, which can vary according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, though most universality prohibit texting and driving.
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.
Can geotagging negatively impact my insurance?
Let’s say a colleague went away and their house was ransacked while they were out of town.
During their trip, they posted photos on social media, but didn’t indicate they were out of town. However, the geotagging setting was turned on.
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.
So is your home insurance void if you post on social media? No, but it might affect your ability to file a claim in the even of a robbery or burglary.
Does posting on social media invalidate home insurance?
As we noted above, posting on social media alone does not invalidate your home insurance (though you should always read the fine print and check with your insurer to confirm).
However, in general, posting anything related to trips, being out of town, being away, etc. is discouraged.
If you do want to post photos or video from your vacation, you should wait to do so until you’re back home, in order to not announce that your home is empty.
It follows then, that if you’re wondering if your house insurance is invalid if you post on Facebook, the answer is most likely no.
But if your house is robbed after a Facebook posting that indicated you were out of town, you may not be able to file an insurance claim for the losses.
If you’ve looked up whether insurance is void if you post on Facebook on Snopes or other similar websites, you’ll find comparable information to what we’ve described here.
We’ll discuss the effects of social media on home insurance in more detail later.
Can relationships negatively impact my insurance?
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.
Can pets negatively impact my insurance?
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.
Can smoking negatively affect my insurance?
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.
Social Media Posts and Home Insurance Claims
Writing in and calling customer service hotlines to speak with agents are still both acceptable ways to file your home insurance claims.
However, the majority of the claims processed in the home insurance industry has shifted to online services.
Policyholders are given virtual ID cards and the entire claims process can be handled from the convenience of an app on your phone in most instances.
Can social media negatively impact my home insurance claims?
Just as it has taken over our social lives, the virtual world is also slowly taking over the home insurance game.
But what happens when your virtual worlds collide? Can your social media posts adversely effect your home insurance claims?
The answer is both yes and no particularly when it involves the “Reasonable Care Clause” in your home insurance contract and burglary and theft.
If you are the victim of a home burglary, it could be argued that you did not adequately safeguard your home from theft if you were actively posting on social media that you are out of town.
This practice of voiding a home insurance claim because of social media posts is highly uncommon, but your insurance company is still well within in their rights to take your social media activity into consideration.
They could alternatively either choose to raise your rates or not insure you in the future based on your social media posts.
Does this mean you can never post another vacation picture to social media? Of course not. Just be aware and careful with the details you share online.
Avoid posting exact dates and locations and your virtual worlds of social media and home insurance claims should have no problem coexisting even when they collide.
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 fraud is suspected, 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 who were thwarted due to their social media posts. Since insurance fraud raises rates, it’s a good thing to be prevented.
Less fraud means better rates 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 the following tips to safeguard your online identity against criminals or a possible report from an insurer.
Should I check my 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.
Should I 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.
In fact, according to one statistic we found, social media burglary is quite common, and many burglars check social media as a part of their planning process.
Should I ever 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.
However, insurers are more likely to cancel or non-renew your policy if they discover you have been untruthful or included incorrect information when applying for insurance that could affect 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 toward your insurance company, you should never have any reason to worry that your social media posts may come back to haunt you.
The Bottom Line for Auto Insurance, Life Insurance, and Home Insurance and Social Media
While insurance companies have not standardized the use of social media as a way to adjust rates, your posting habits can have an affect on your insurability, ability to file claims, and in some cases, your rates.
If and when you choose to post on social media, take care to:
- Turn off geotagging
- Lock down your privacy settings
- Report all pertinent information to your insurer when purchasing your policy
Still have questions about social media and insurance claims? Read through the following frequently asked questions to learn more.
Does posting holiday photos on Facebook invalidate insurance?
You already know house insurance is not void due to social media posting alone and that posting photos indicating you’re away can affect your ability to file a claim if you’re robbed while out of town.
However, home insurance social media posts whether holiday related or not won’t automatically void your home insurance.
Can insurance companies check your Facebook?
If your privacy settings are set to allow anyone to view your profile, your insurance company can check your Facebook.
However, if you’ve updated your privacy settings to reflect more security and only friends can see your posts, your insurance company will not have access to view your Facebook.
Is there a home insurance social media clause?
There isn’t an official house insurance social media clause. However, we’ve already discussed your house insurance social media holiday posting habits.
If you’re out of town, post something that indicates that, and then your home is robbed while you’re still away, you may not be able to file an insurance claim.
This falls under the “reasonable care” clause, which we discussed earlier. While this is not limited to social media, this is where the idea that there is a social media clause comes from.
Before you go, use your ZIP code to get a free quote on insurance.