Those who have both homeowners insurance and one or more social media accounts may not ever think the two could be related. But the truth is that they are far more related that you may think. It is now widely-known that would-be burglars frequently troll social media sites, looking for postings that indicate an account owner will soon be going on vacation, or confirming an empty home by viewing images posted by account owners while on vacation.
The Benefits of Live Updates
Burglars aren’t the only ones who have jumped on the social media bandwagon. Insurance companies themselves have also taken the plunge, using all manner of social media to keep their customers informed during emergencies.
Many insurance companies offer live updates when a disaster hits the area. These updates can occur via Twitter, web site or a company’s Facebook page, if they have one. The benefit of using social media during such occurrences is that the insurance customer gets the information they need in order to properly deal with traumatic events like hurricanes and tornadoes. As well, the insurance company can successfully communicate to their customers their understanding of what’s happening, which can provide real relief and result in a long-term commitment to an insurance company.
Follow Up Is Vital
Not only is it important to insurance customers to get live updates from their insurance company, but it is equally important to keep receiving communication from their companies after a disaster has occurred.
A regular newsletter can inspire customers to contact a company with their questions. And if a topic is interesting enough to customers, they may use their own social media accounts to share with their contact lists. This can mean even more exposure for an insurance company.
The Flip Side of Social Media and Homeowners Insurance
Along with all of the good things about social media, there is a dark side. Despite all of the warnings from insurance companies about not posting vacation photos or updates while away from home, many people still do this. In fact, so many people do this that it could result in higher insurance rates, although probably not for awhile.
Insurance companies already check the social media sites of their clients to validate insurance claims they perceive to be suspicious or outrageous. But it may soon be that insurance company clients could be penalized for what they share on their social media accounts by having to pay more for coverage.
With the billions of social media accounts that are out there, it’s impossible for any insurance company to search them all for possible fraud. However, technology is evolving. Vendors are developing tools which would automate the social media account searching process, making it infinitely easier for insurance companies to mine data.
Not only would insurance companies be able to use the information to gauge risk when deciding to take on a client, but they could also use it to determine whether a client was partially at fault for their home being burglarized, and whether or not this warrants higher insurance rates.
Of course, there are many questions about how insurance companies would use the data they’ve mined from social media, and how ethical the use of that information would be. One possibility is the development of a ‘social networking score’, much like a credit score, where risk could be determined based on the social networking activity of a client.
There are definite benefits to insurance companies using social media where it comes to their clients and their communities. In networking online with other businesses and organizations, an insurance company can help support their community, and the businesses and organizations within a community can gain greater exposure when they’re spotlighted on social media.
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1165447
Guest author Carly Jorge writes on a variety of topics, particularly related to homeowners insurance. She is a frequent contributor at The Home Protection Geek, a site dedicated to helping consumers navigate insurance questions.