There are a lot of great uses for social media. It’s a great place to share ideas, get inspiration, or learn a new skill. Many influencers provide step-by-step instructions for anything from small DIY projects to total space and home renovations.
But did you know your social media presence can affect your home insurance? And it’s not just what you post that can affect your coverage. There are a number of features embedded in social media apps and smartphones that can affect how insurance companies gather information and access your coverage.
The relationship between home insurance and social media is an interesting one. The age of social media has changed much more than how we share information and stay connected. Before you post that next renovation selfie, take these issues into account.
Home Renovations on Social Media
Making additions or renovations to your home is a great way to invest in your property, but these changes will also affect your home insurance coverage. Adding more square footage or changing the functionality of your home requires a review of your current coverage.
That review can lead insurance companies to find and identify potential risk factors. When these risk factors are identified, insurance companies can cancel coverage or increase premiums to better protect themselves.
One place insurance companies are uncovering potential risk is by reviewing customer’s social media accounts. It may come as a surprise, but how social media accounts are used can help insurance companies better understand people as a whole. This understanding helps insurance companies determine how or if they will issue policies.
Features of Social Media
Social media is a great tool. It has helped to reshape the world and many business enterprises. In fact, there are hundreds of studies documenting the advantages of social media, including connection, networking, and added benefits of advertising.
Unfortunately, however, some features of social media can work against consumers when they are looking for insurance coverage.
Pictures on Social Media
Pictures are worth a thousand words and social media is full of pictures. These pictures often show how a person acts in potentially risky situations. Whatever is in those pictures can be used to determine if you are offered a home insurance policy.
Unfortunately, the pictures we post to social media accounts are often hard to delete. These pictures can be seen by many people and businesses long after those moments have passed.
And these pictures are in many different places, not just social media sites, but dating sites as well. Luckily, there are surefire ways to delete Facebook dating accounts and profiles to help safeguard yourself.
Texting and Insurance
Insurance companies don’t have access to an individual’s text messages, but sometimes those messages are shared online. If you choose to screenshot a personal conversation and post it, then that information is available for anyone to see it.
These text messages could suggest some potentially risky relationships, connections, or behaviors. Any risk leaves an insurance company open to claims or fraud. Risk assessment is often used when determining how a policy is structured or what types of premiums will be required.
Geotagging can lead to break-ins and burglaries. Allowing social media to geographically tag your pictures can signal that your home is empty. This is a perfect opportunity for someone with bad intentions to take advantage.
Insurance companies are on the hook for big payouts when homes are broken into and burglarized. If a customer consistently shares their location, then a company might consider them a high-risk client or claim negligence on future claims.
Social Media and Insurance
Many insurance companies have turned to social media to help assess the potential risk presented by current and future clients. These companies use social media accounts to determine a number of different factors.
Most often companies use the online presence of an individual to understand and analyze their relationships, lifestyle, and habits. These factors are great indicators of the risk involved in insuring an individual. People post about their relationships, lifestyles, and habits frequently, so social media is a great way to get to know someone quickly.
Are social media profiles always factored into insurance?
Not always, but it’s a good idea to assume they will be.
Not every insurance company considers a consumer’s online presence before approving an insurance claim or coverage. In fact, social media accounts aren’t listed on the list of standard factors.
There are times, however, when a company decides to review a consumer’s online presence to get a sense of who that person is and assess the potential risk of insuring them. Are they trustworthy? Do they share their location often? Do they post pictures while driving?
Some of these answers can be surmised from a quick scan of the types of things a person posts online. The answers to these questions can greatly affect how an insurance company views a potential customer.
Is it legal for companies to use social media to determine who they will cover?
Yes, it is. When a person’s social media accounts are public, the pictures and information they post are public information. Companies can use that information to determine how they disseminate their goods and services.
Even if you don’t share your full account publicly, there are clauses embedded in the terms and conditions on social media sites that allow some information to be shared. Because you likely agreed to those terms and conditions when creating your social media accounts, the information you post is fair game.
How to Protect Yourself Online
With a new understanding of how your social media presence and content can affect other areas of your life, it’s important to know how to protect yourself. Consider these tips and tricks before you post that next picture.
1 – Check Privacy Settings on Your Accounts
Make sure your accounts are set to “private.” This setting keeps most of your posts closed to people who aren’t listed as your friends. Companies won’t be able to review your posts and possibly misinterpret or misunderstand something on your profile. This also keeps you safe from other possible dangers and issues in the future.
2 – Turn Geotagging Off
Geotagging is the process of attaching your geographical coordinates to your posts and pictures online. This can have serious ramifications down the road and signals to insurance companies that you are a higher-risk customer.
This setting is usually set in the “on” position by default. Check your settings and make sure geotagging is switched off.
3 – Be Wise on Social Media
The adage of “think before you speak” works well when posting online. Consider what you are putting online before you hit that “post” button.
The world we live in today is overly digital. Everyone wants to share every piece of their lives, but that can be risky. Maybe keep some pictures and information off the internet and share it more personally with friends and family.
4 – Be Honest to Your Insurance Company
It’s important to be transparent with insurance companies. Hiding pieces of information can come back to haunt you later.
If there is an issue or red flag, an insurance company is more likely to work with you when they are aware of it before starting the coverage or policy. If you leave that information to be discovered later, then you risk cancellation of coverage.
Laura Gunn is an insurance expert who researches and writes for the insurance comparison site, USInsuranceAgents.com. She is an avid user of social media and passionate about consumers understanding the impact it has on their lives.