You would be difficult to name something that has had a greater impact on global society over the past decade than social media. More than one game switch, it has been a cultural change.
Facebook estimates that it now has more than 1.8 billion users according to data from statista.com. Twitter's over 300 million users send out about 500 million tweets every day according to internetlivestats.com . And these two are barely top of the iceberg, with dozens on dozens of social media platforms now in operation.
But greater connection means greater risks.
While social media has opened a whole new world of connectivity and sharing, it also opened the door to a whole new world of risks. For starters, social media platforms are famous for collecting a variety of personal information from users.
But the information you voluntarily post for the world to see can also put you in danger. In fact, it is only possible to share your thoughts, updates about your life, daily activities, current location, relationship status and other personal information subscriptions can put you at risk. For example, if you talk about your upcoming trip to Mexico on Facebook, you accidentally advertise that your home will be empty.
Can your social media activity affect your insurance rates?
In a nutshell, yes. Here are five social media activities that can make you pay higher insurance rates:
- Posting selfies while driving . It is, of course, dangerous and not so smart. And if your insurance company sees your post, they can't renew your policy based on your distracted driving habits.
- Texting while driving. If you send screen shots of your text conversations showing that you were driving at that time, it can cost you, especially if you get into an accident while doing so. Your insurance company may deny your claim or list you as an error.
- Accounting for risky activities . Pictures of your workout at the gym? Good! Posts by you driving a motorcycle without a helmet or ice climbing while drinking a beer? Not so good, but it is a great way to increase your life insurance premiums.
- Geotagging . The camera's camera encodes your location every time you take a picture. If you post pictures while you are on vacation and your home is broken in, your insurance company can claim that you were negligent by uploading photos with geotags. Simple solution: Turn on geotagging in the phone's settings.
- Sends your relationship status. Are you divorced but haven't changed your relationship status yet? Just stay with a partner but treat them as a husband? Some states require both spouses to be called an autopoly, so your status may cause your insurer to suspect you have an uninsured driver in your household and require you to add them to your policy.
Is your insurance company spied on you via social media?
Most insurance companies use social media to market their business, gather information about parties involved in a claim and fight fraud. But there has been no widespread use of social media to make decisions about signing up. However, it is starting to change.
Here in New York, the State Department of Financial Services recently decided to allow life insurance companies to use social media and other forms of information to help determine premium prices, but with limitations. This means that it will probably not be long before social media play a greater role in the insurance guarantee process.
How do you keep your social media from costing you more to insurance premiums? Be smart about what you share and always be honest with your insurance company. These two tips will go a long way to help you avoid an expensive surprise.