Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Insurance Companies Using Facebook and MySpace To Spy On You

You had to figure this was coming...Insurance adjusters are getting access to social media sites and using posted information against claimants in a wide variety of situations. Case in point: a colleague recently reported that an insurance adjuster recently told him that his teenage client ( injured in an auto accident) had misstated her age, was smoking, and engaging in other "questionable activity."

What's the legal relevance of these activities to her injury claim? Perhaps it showed her engaging in all sorts of activities that she claimed she was incapable of doing because of the crash--a potential problem.

But what if her "activities" had no bearing on her injuries or her claim? If a lawsuit were filed, perhaps this evidence would be ruled irrelevant and therefore inadmissible. But here's the problem: probably over 90% of all auto or other injury claims are settled without a lawsuit being filed. So, insurance companies are free to try to use this "we've got some dirt on you" strategy as leverage in settlement negotiations. Sneaky? You bet. But there's a reason why insurance companies continue to make money, recession or no recession.

The ripple effects of insurers and employers trolling social media remain to be seen. I suspect that life and health insurance companies are using this tactic as well. Just think about all the applications for insurance you fill out, and that little clause at the end where you verify that the information you've given is true and correct. Now measure all that against information that you may post to your favorite sites. Something to think about.

Probably the best solution is to assume your Mom is reading your sites and "motherproof" them. Is "motherproofing" a word? Maybe I'll copyright it.

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