How #Oversharing Could Sink Your Insurance Claim

Man at party risks insurance claim by sharing selfie on social media


Your friends, family, employers and prospective partners are all watching your social media accounts. Don't be surprised if your insurer does the same.


If you haven't done it yourself, you probably know someone who has. It could be a simple slip-up (posting party photos on Instagram the night before you call in sick at work) or a delete-your-account-and-throw-away-your-phone disaster (marking your status as 'Single' when you are very much still in a relationship). Either way, it's dangerously easy to #overshare on social media, and your insurance company (like your boss and your boo) may well be watching you.


Look, your insurer isn't trying to catch you out. Most insurance claims (well over 90% of them) are paid out, no questions asked. But if your insurer smells something fishy about your claim, they will investigate it – and they will, almost certainly, check your social media accounts.


Oversharing leads to claim denial


One South African insurer recently shared the story of an accident claim they received on a very expensive, very fast imported sports car owned by a respectable elderly gentleman. According to the car insurance claim, this pillar of the community was driving his car early one evening when it was involved in a crash. Bad luck. It happens.


But when the insurer checked on social media, it found that – and we'll let the insurer take it from here – 'the gentleman's son, an aspirant racing driver, was out on the town with the vehicle that night, and that the accident actually happened much later, when the owner was home in bed.'


The claim was obviously rejected.


Screening for fraud


'Fraudulent claims are a major challenge to the short-term insurance industry,' the Ombudsman for Short-term Insurance (OSTI) pointed out in a recent statement. 'To reduce the number of fraudulent claims, insurers appoint investigators to validate high-value or suspicious claims (which are often highlighted by sophisticated computer systems, and even your social media activity).'


If your insurance policy is cancelled for dishonesty, you may struggle to find cover in future, they add. 'Though the burden of proving fraud is high and lies with the insurer, the implications are serious. A fraudulent claim may not only result in a claim being rejected or the cancellation of a policy, but the matter may be reported to the police.'


The reality is, it's time-consuming to go and check every social media account of every person who ever files an insurance claim. But if the insurer has reason to be suspicious (as in the case of that flashy sports car), they may conduct an investigation – and they will spend some time doomscrolling your Insta. You can't blame them (hey, you've Facebook-stalked your ex plenty of times!), and you can't complain about the invasion of privacy either. After all, if your account is public and you posted the incriminating pictures, that's on you.


Where is your data going?


Social media is a natural part of our lives now. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok... heck, even Twitter, Snapchat and your WhatsApp status contain information about your personal life, including your interests, likes, dislikes, etc.


A few years ago a UK car insurance company launched a product which used the Facebook posts of young drivers to determine their personality and risk profile, and they then used that data to offer those drivers discounts on car insurance.


Facebook blocked the product, citing a breach of its privacy policy. But since then, and despite tightened privacy legislation across the world (including South Africa's Protection of Personal Information Act), more and more companies have tapped into social media to create customer profiles.


With so much personal information now stored online, insurers who have the right algorithms and the right third-party data access could easily use it to assess your risk profile. For now, they'll simply stick to using your posts to cross-check info to stop any fraudulent claims. If you're an honest person who doesn't cheat on their car insurance claims, you'll have nothing to worry about.


But for the sake of your career advancement, you might want to dial back on those weeknight-party photos.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal or medical advice.

Compare Car Insurance Quotes

Our trusted partners