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While You’re Tweeting, Insurance Companies Are Listening

Close up to a smartphone screen. A finger about to tap on the Twitter app .

When it comes to social networking and motor vehicle accidents, your postings on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, could make conflicting statements about your accident public knowledge.

Increasingly, checking social media sites has become one of the first things an insurance company or adjuster will do when you file a claim. And it’s not based on maternal instincts – they’re looking for ammunition to support their action to deny claims or limit payouts. In some cases, the adjustors uncover out-and-out fraud based on Twitter or Facebook posts that contradict information submitted on claims reports.

But insurers are even more inquisitive. They comb through claimants’ social networks for clues to driving habits. Post wild videos of street racing on your profile? You may be tagged as a reckless driver. Post a photo of yourself chugging beer in a pub on St. Patrick’s day? It could point to a pattern of drinking and driving.

Think this is an invasion of privacy? Not according to a report made to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.  Evidently, investigating social networking content that’s not protected with privacy settings is not considered an ethical breach.

Although ethical codes prohibit attorneys and their investigators from secretly “friending” of targets in order to circumvent privacy settings, they have no control over investigators (leaving them free to “friend” anyone) not hired by insurance companies or by attorneys themselves.

We may believe that there is nothing we have said or done online that would be relevant to an insurer. But we may want to think again. Are you a fan of war reenactment websites?  Do you post photos of yourself skydiving?  Have you boasted about your Himalayan trek without oxygen? Has a friend posted a photo of you puffing away on a stogie?  This information might also affect your ability to obtain or keep many types of insurance—including disability, homeowner’s, or automobile.

Now that insurance claims adjustors are making it standard practice to scrutinize the web for reasons to deny claims, people have reason to be more discriminating with the information they share.

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