A car accident is never a good thing, but an accident becomes even worse if your insurance claim is later denied. Insurance companies regularly investigate accident claims in order to prevent fraud, but these days they’re doing so in ways that you may not have considered. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are mines of personal information, and many insurance companies are using these sites to investigate insurance claims.
How Accident Claims Work
You know the basics of insurance: you pay monthly and in the event of an accident, your insurance company pays all or most of the resulting bills. However, insurance companies are used to being scammed, and devote a lot of their energies to preventing insurance fraud. One way in which they do this is by checking out public information available on social networking sites in order to prove or disprove an insurance claim.
Let’s say you filed a claim that says your car accident caused you a back injury which makes it impossible for you to work. That’s fair enough, and good vehicle insurance should cover your injuries. But if you then post a Facebook video of you playing football with your friends, insurance agents are likely to question the truthfulness of your claim.
Is This Legal?
Absolutely. As long as the information the insurance companies are accessing is public, it’s completely legal for them to use it. That means checking the security settings of your social networking site. On Facebook, for example, you can make your profile public or private. If it’s public, then anyone, including insurance companies can legally read and use your information.
This Isn’t Necessarily a Bad Thing
It’s easy to look at this issue and declare it an invasion of privacy, but the truth is that these tactics aren’t used by insurance companies to hurt you, in fact they’re designed to help you. Fraudulent insurance claims cost insurance companies millions of Rands, which in turn means higher insurance premiums for everyone. By being able to deny accident claims that are obviously not true, insurance companies save money and are then able to pass those savings on to you.
On the personal side, as long as your insurance claim is true, then you should have absolutely nothing to worry about. And if you feel that this is an invasion of your privacy, then it’s up to you to adjust those security settings on your social networking accounts to disallow others from seeing your updates.
Exercising Caution with Accident Claims
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be aware of the issue, however.
After a car accident one of the many things that you’ll want to consider is what’s being posted on your social networking profiles (for more info on procedures after accidents see What to Do After a Car Accident). Be cautious about anything you post regarding the accident itself, and be cautious of what others may post on your account as well. It’s easy, for example, for someone to post a picture of you lifting weights AFTER your accident that was taken BEFORE your accident. You’ll want to avoid potentially confusing situations like these, which might not necessarily get your insurance claim denied, but that might prolong the claims process.
And you may even want to deal with problems before they occur. Getting privacy settings correct is a good idea just in general. And of course, avoid posting things that could obviously get you into trouble (a status update listing the amount of beers you’ve had before you drive home isn’t a good idea…). Even something as simple as a statement about your mood before an accident could potentially be used against you.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line here is that it’s in your best interest to monitor your social networks. Insurance companies, along with many other businesses, including potential employers, can access your social networking profiles if you don’t set up the appropriate privacy settings. In the modern world social networks have become the first stop when you’re looking at investigating someone for any kind of reason, and insurance companies are no exception.
Do you need to delete your accounts? No, of course not. But you do need to be cautious about what you say and what’s being said about you. And should you be unfortunate enough to be in a car accident, then know that your social media info is up for grabs. Post the wrong thing at the wrong time, and you could find that important insurance claim being denied.
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