What You Post on Social Media Could Impact Your insurance Rates
Updated: Jul 3, 2019
The Internet is a great source for information on almost anything, including people. With the popularity social media, businesses have been using it as a valuable tool for getting to know their customers as well as their current and prospective employees.
Just as many businesses use social media data to make hiring (and firing) decisions, insurance companies can discover a lot about their customers’ by viewing their social media profiles. As a result, companies can adjust premiums to better reflect what they determine to be an individual’s lifestyle. While some consumers may see the benefits in the form of lower premiums, others may not be so fortunate.
Because of the differences among insurance companies and the fact that they are currently not required to disclose data, there is no way of knowing exactly how your social media information is being used. However, there are specific issues that concerned insurance underwriters and adjusters may be looking for. For example:
Health insurance underwriters interested in your medical history may be interested in behaviors that indicate you are high risk, such as smoking, drinking or leading a sedentary lifestyle.
Insurance companies that require your spouse to be listed on your policy may check your profiles to confirm your relationship status.
Homeowners insurance companies may be interested in the photos of a family dog posted on the social media site of a customer who denied owning a pet.
Companies specializing in workers’ compensation claims may use social media to detect possible fraud.
An auto insurer may look for posts related to an accident for which you have filed a claim.
Currently, there are no laws preventing insurance companies from examining your social media profile. Due to clauses of implied consent in the terms and conditions, it is likely that you have agreed to share information publicly when using social media websites. Some attorneys and investigators claim that mining social media websites is no different than video surveillance, which is permissible to use in court.
If you are concerned about your insurance company checking your social media accounts, there are steps you can take to protect yourself:
Be Smart About What You Share: You may not always have a choice about what is done with your information, but you do have control over the information you put out there. Consider limiting the amount of personal information you share on social media. In addition to monitoring your own posts, keep track of photos or posts you are tagged in and ask friends to remove anything that makes you uncomfortable.
Restrict Your Privacy Settings: Check your privacy settings regularly and adjust them so that only your actual friends or followers can see your posts. You can also restrict who can add you to groups and post on your timeline. Keep in mind that even with the highest privacy settings on social media, you are still susceptible to some degree of data mining as different tools access information in different ways.
Turn Off Location Settings: Geolocation is used on almost all social media sites to automatically track and disclose your geographic location. Consider turning off location settings on your social sites and avoid tagging locations when you post. You may also want to deactivate the geo-tagging setting on your smartphone, which inserts data into your photos indicating where they were taken.
The best protection is to be honest with your insurance company and provide accurate, up-to-date information. If you have questions about your rights when it comes to your social media information or how your insurance company may be using it, we are here to provide advice and counsel. Please call 973-509-8500 x213 or email LFarber@LFarberLaw.com.
The contents of this writing are intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion in any specific facts or circumstances.