Social media has changed the way we share information online and the way in which we express ourselves to our friends and followers. It enables us to drop photos, videos or text online from anywhere round the world and at any time we fancy – simply through any device connected the web.
We could be surfing the waves in Hawaii, exploring the Pyramids of Giza or marching through the forests of Mount Fuji and we wouldn’t have to wait until we could upload our latest post to a social media platform of our choosing. However, little do we know that this may just invalidate our insurance policy.
Whether you have a policy for a vehicle, your home or yourself as an individual – many may not realise that the “reasonable” care clause featured in various differentiations on any insurance policy may soon see your policy invalidated. Whether you’re choosing to publish snaps on Instagram that you’re away on holiday and have left the house alone for two weeks, or sharing your glee on Twitter with a tweet about your latest technology purchases, your insurance provider could soon use this against you in the case of any claim.
Although there has been no proof that a major crackdown has begun with UK-based insurers utilising in-depth social analysis to reduce payouts, there have been many examples of social media catching people out. In 2016, a runner named William Owen had tweeted a photo of himself running a race and later tweeted about his registration to a half marathon, followed by a photo of him on top of Mount Snowdon. All of which would’ve been okay, if he hadn’t claimed to have suffered neck and back pain due to a vehicle collision a few months prior. Owen’s insurance company, Aviva, had at the same time become highly suspicious that their customer did not seek medical attention after the crash, but had instead left it for months. When investigating, they discovered his tweeted activity and presented it to his solicitors which saw Owen’s whiplash claim dropped.
Whether status updates, videos posted online, links between mutual friends on social platforms or photos shared – all these functions can be used to crack down on a claim by insurers and find out the real truth behind what could’ve caused a claim to come about. Whether that is through lack of reasonable care or blatant lying.
Despite social analysis not being as prominent in the UK for insurance companies, this is a different story around the world. Particularly in the US, where insurance companies quite prominently explore all avenues to both get rid of a claim and to research their consumers. This includes full background checks as expected, as well as social media investigation if necessary. The increase in data intelligence and intelligence driven technology such as AI, that can find and discover the most appropriate data for a designated objective, is only going to increase as more insurance companies invest on the possibilities of limiting their loss through paid out claims.
So how can you protect yourself online from prying eyes? You could begin by changing your privacy settings on social media platforms to ensure only a close knit community of friends can see your posts, ones that you have trust and confidence in. This will also reduce the chance of your policy becoming invalid, so if an insurance provider was to take such a route, you’ll be conveniently secure online with the information you’ve posted out.
The easier way to protect yourself, however, would be to ensure you don’t publish content that could put you under threat. If you’re on holiday, it’s important you don’t state when you’re away from home so that the risk of your house being burgled is significantly decreased. If you’re going out with a hefty amount of valuables, don’t use social media to share your active location. And, last but not least, if you’re thinking of lying to your insurance provider, it’s very likely that you’ll be found out.