Insurers May Be Using Facebook to Underwrite Policies

by John McKiggan

Insurers Using Social Media

There was an interesting article in Lawyers Weekly pointing to developments in the United States where insurance companies are using information collected from public social media sites such as Facebook, My Space and Twitter to conduct risk assessments when underwriting insurance policies.

The article indicates that Canadian insurance companies are watching the developments “very closely” according to Mark Kline, a spokesman for the Insurance Bureau of Canada. According to Kline:

“Social networking is used for a variety of purposes, and insurance companies may be able to gain information to set claims and underwrite policies.”

Breaking the Law?

The problem is that collecting information from social networking sites may be against the law, at least here in Canada.

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) applies to any organization that collects, uses or discloses personal information. The legislation requires the organization collecting the information to obtain permission before collecting and using the personal information.

PIPEDA does allow organizations like insurance companies to collect and use personal information found in some public documents. The question is whether social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, My Space and personal blogs fit under the public source exception contained in PIPEDA.

Using Facebook to Defend Claims

Insurance companies are already using information found on Facebook to defend personal injury lawsuits.

Social Networking and Personal Injury Claims

Facebook Being Used Against Personal Injury Victims

Posting About Your Car Accident on Facebook? Better Think Twice!

Now they are even collecting information from Facebook even before they agree to issue an insurance policy.

What Should You Do?

If you are planning on applying for a life insurance policy in the near future make sure you delete all of your skydiving and mountain climbing pictures before you send in your application.

What do you think? Do you “Like” that insurance companies may be “checking you out” on Facebook before they insure you?

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