Location Based Social Networking Can Affect Insurance Rates

March 6, 2017

According to the results of a poll conducted by AA Home Insurance, a British firm, 43 percent of respondents check into social networking sites with their current location, a trend that will increasingly raise the cost of homeowners insurance premiums.

People who volunteer their current location are allowing would-be burglars a tailor-made research tool to verify when a residence is vacant. This problem is especially serious when the information is augmented by a social networking post that indicates the person or family is away on vacation.

About 10 percent of the people surveyed admitted they disclose their travel plans, while 8 percent said another person in their household did so. The second number is likely higher as parents are not always aware of the information their teenage children are posting online.

Interestingly, women are twice as likely to divulge their travel plans than men; 14 percent, compared to 7 percent for males. This also puts women at an increased risk of physical or sexual assault as predators can track their movements.

It is a growing trend in the insurance industry to ask consumers who are applying for homeowners policies if they are active on social networking sites and if they report their current location. If they do, their premium will likely be higher as they are engaged in a seemingly harmless but actually high risk behavior.

If a homeowner’s residence is broken into and the insurance company can verify that the person divulged their location or travel plans, they will likely see a subsequent rate increase after the settlement.

Experts in the field of social networking counsel participants not to accept friend requests from people they don’t know, to lock down their security settings to friends only, and never to post their mobile number or home address on their profile pages. It’s also important to police posts from friends who might say something as innocent as, “Have a good trip next week.” Thieves can and will exploit any information they can find and many users are far too loose with what is a growing personal security concern.