Insurers could be snooping on you via your social media, and at the same time keeping tabs on you more than you even think. From Facebook, Twitter to Instagram, nearly everything is online these days, which makes it easier for you to be monitored without your awareness.
Insurers are often skeptical about claims; hence, they use evidence deduced from your social media posts to fight claims they think might be fraudulent.
Notwithstanding, there’s a slim chance of an insurer denying your claim if your loss is as a result of your use of social media – say, your house is looted because of your holiday snaps, you can still claim.
Curious Case of Admiral
In 2016, an Insurance company, Admiral, almost launched a system called ‘Firstcarquote’ – that would decide the cost of someone’s car insurance based on their social media posts. The system was built to look for clues in the Facebook updates of users to determine personality traits linked to safe driving.
For Instance, writing in short sentences would classify you as well organized, and therefore a better driver, so the cost of your insurance would reduce.
On the other hand, if your writing classifies you as being confident, such as using exclamation marks, it would yield a higher premium.
The idea didn’t seem to go down well with the community, which left the insurer with no other option than to ditch the scheme two hours before launch after Facebook considered it a breach to its privacy rules.
It’s disheartening knowing that an insurer will use social media data to determine how much premium you pay, even for companies like Admiral that uses an opt-in system.
According to an Axa spokesman statement: “Like many insurers, we use a number of tools and sources, including social media, as a method of detecting fraudulent claims. Social media is a useful weapon to help in the fight on fraud and often leads to a conviction against unscrupulous policyholders.”
In 2017, the insurance sector uncovered 125,000 fraudulent insurance claims valued at £1.3billion – and the Association of British Insurers estimates that a similar amount of fraud goes undetected each year.
This makes an excellent case for why insurers tend to be suspicious, and why insurers in the UK put aside at least £200 million each year to identify fraud.
They believe if a claimant has nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear. Still, a large majority of people feel uncomfortable with the idea of a company snooping on their private lives, even if they have chosen to put part of their lives on the internet.
Drawing the Line
Axa has a metric for using someone’s social media information to deny a claim, like most insurers. The insurer can only use the publicly displayed information, and the insurer cannot be anonymous when using Facebook. The profile has to indicate it’s from Axa, rather than using a bogus profile.
Also, profiles can only be accessed if they are open and anyone can see the content – and cannot befriend, like or comment on anyone’s page.
LV approach is also similar. Matt Crabtree, LV fraud manager, said the company goes to the extreme to detect fraud and protect the premiums of honest customers and one way they do is through social media research.
“We analyze publicly available information across a host of platforms but, for ethical reasons, would never befriend or engage with any suspects we were monitoring.”
Nonetheless, it’s like Insurers might not be the only ones watching your social media profiles as there is an alternative way that insurers can probe claims which they suspect are fake – with the help of third-party private investigators.
Private investigators’ services can be used when an insurer suspects a claimant of fraud, like faking or exaggerating a road traffic injury.
Not only can they check on your public social media profiles, but they can also use them to find your location and carry out an investigation, sometimes using hidden cameras.
The Insurers sometimes use this information to give evidence against fraudulent claimants. So, if all the snooping is done in a public place, it is legal.
Though, sincere claimants will most likely never have to worry about being accused of fraud, yet that doesn’t mean they have to give up their right to privacy. One way of preventing companies from snooping on your social media pages is to set your account to private.