You’d be hard pressed to name something that’s had more impact on global society in the past decade than social media. More than a game changer, it’s been a culture changer.
Facebook estimates it now has more than 1.8 billion users according to data from statista.com. Twitter’s more than 300 million users send out about 500 million tweets every day according to internetlivestats.com. And these two are barely the tip of the iceberg, with dozens upon dozens of social media platforms now in operation.
But greater connectivity means greater risks.
While social media has opened up a whole new world of connecting and sharing, it’s also opened the door to a whole new world of risks. For starters, social media platforms are notorious for collecting a wealth of personal information from users.
But the information you voluntarily post for the world to see can put you at risk too. In fact, the mere act of sharing your thoughts, updates about your life, daily activities, current location, relationship status, and other tidbits of personal information can put you at risk. For example, if you’re talking up your upcoming trip to Mexico on Facebook, you’re inadvertently advertising that your home will be empty.
Could your social media activity affect your insurance rates?
In a nutshell, yes. Here are five social media activities that could have you paying higher insurance rates:
- Posting selfies while driving. Needless to say, it’s dangerous and not very smart. And if your insurance company sees your post, they may not renew your policy based on your distracted driving habits.
- Texting while driving. If you post screen shots of your text conversations that show you were driving at the time, it may cost you, especially if you get into an accident while doing it. Your insurance company may deny your claim or list you as at-fault.
- Posting about risky activities. Pictures of your workout at the gym? Great! Posts of you riding a motorcycle without a helmet or ice climbing while drinking a beer? Not so great, though it’s a good way to increase your life insurance premiums.
- Geotagging. Your phone’s camera tags your location every time you take a picture. If you post pictures while on vacation and your home gets broken into, your insurance company may claim you were negligent by uploading photos with geotags. Easy solution: turn geotagging off in your phone’s settings.
- Posting your relationship status. Are you divorced but haven’t changed your relationship status yet? Just living with a partner but treat them like a spouse? Some states require both spouses to be named on an auto policy, so your relationship status may cause your insurer to suspect you have an uninsured driver in your household and demand that you add them to your policy.
Is your insurance company spying on you through social media?
Most insurance companies use social media to market their business, gather information on parties involved in a claim, and fight fraud. But there’s been no widespread use of social media to make underwriting decisions yet. However, that’s starting to change.
Here in New York, the State Department of Financial Services recently decided to allow life insurance companies to use social media data and other forms of information to help set premium rates, though with limitations. That means it probably won’t be long before social media plays a greater role in the insurance underwriting process.
How do you keep your social media posts from costing you more in insurance premiums? Be smart about what you share and always be honest with your insurance company. Those two pieces of advice will go a long way in helping you avoid a costly surprise.