How Social Media Could Affect Injury Claims

Your insurance company is skeptical of your claim. According to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, conservative estimates place the insurance industry’s losses to fraudulent claims at $80 billion each year. Because insurance companies want to protect their interests as a business, they’ve turned to social media to identify possible insurance fraud cases.

If a person looks physically active and minimally injured in their social media posts, an insurance company may use these photos against them. Insurers say this practice does more than protect their profits—it also protects their policyholders from inflated premiums caused by fraudulent claims.

How an Insurance Company Might Use Social Media

Social media posts are blossoming into an efficient way for insurance companies to build a case against policyholders. If a person claims they are hurt and unable to move, an insurance company could use recent photos of them being active against them.

For example, if a person claims they are injured and needs compensation because they are unable to work, an insurance investigator might find their social media accounts and find any posts after the date of their accident where the claimant is being active. Insurance companies might argue that a person who is able to go on a hike is also able to work and are unable to seek compensation for time lost at work.

The Problems with Using Social Media to Verify Insurance Claims

Social media is not a reflection of a person’s reality, and studies have proven it. One study found that a studied group reported more depression than counterparts who were not using social media. The reason? A curated portrayal of life. A person may have a collection of photos ready to share and make their life look like a permanent vacation. This means that reality is usually much more boring (or painful) for nearly every person who posts online. That picture posted of a poolside cocktail on the island of Hawaii? It happened weeks ago. Those Wednesday photos of a beautiful meal prepared by a celebrity chef? Your friend likely saved that from the weekend.

Life isn’t perfect, and social media habits don’t change just because someone is suffering from an injury. If a person is suffering from debilitating injuries, the study above supports the notion that they might be tempted to share photos of better times. So, a person who suffered serious injuries to their legs might post photos from a hike that happened weeks or months before their injuries. With nearly no legal standard for using social media to investigate claims, insurers must be certain that their use of social media produces accurate findings.

Are Insurers Allowed to Use Social Media to Investigate Claims?

According to the New York Department of Financial Services, insurance companies can look at a person’s social media posts to inform their claims investigation. With the roots of social media growing deeper into American life, the NYFS decided to be proactive. The department did an 18-month investigation which collected data from 160 insurers. With very little legal guidance about how insurance companies can use social media for investigations, the NYDFS wanted to study the practice proactively.

The NYFS decided that insurers should be allowed to research a claimant’s social media to verify their claims, but the department provided warnings for how the company uses and interprets their data. Specifically, the NYDFS cautioned insurers from developing or using algorithms that could be discriminatory against protected groups.

What Claimants Should Do with Their Social Media Accounts

The report by the NYDFS only applies to businesses in the state of New York, and it is not law. However, it provides a window into how insurance companies use the information available from social media. So, policyholders should exercise caution while posting online and making a claim.

Those making an insurance claim should do the following with their social media privacy:

  • Turn their account on private
  • Only add friends or accept followers that they know
  • Avoid posting old photos of themselves being active
  • Turn off location tracking and geotagging
  • Turn off the ability of others to tag you in posts

Finally, if you are having any issues with an insurance claim, you need the help of an insurance claim attorney. The insurance claim lawyers at Arnold & Itkin are proud to help clients when they are facing a delayed or denied claim. We know that insurance companies do not always honor their policies, so we are ready to fight to ensure that they do. In fact, our attorneys have won billions of dollars for clients in similar situations.

Call Arnold & Itkin today to speak with a member of our team at no cost. We are ready to help, so dial (888) 493-1629 to learn more. 

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