Social media posts can impact insurance prices and coverage

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Someone you never thought of is snooping on your Facebook pages and Twitter feed, and it could cost you money and get you into trouble.

For most of us, logging onto social media sites is part of the daily routine. We're used to friends and family keeping an eye on every post and picture, but what about your insurance agent? They're pouring over your pages, too.

Attorney Jim Summers says insurance agents can legally set premiums and adjust claims simply by skimming their policyholders Facebook pages for risky behavior.

"If there is risky behavior, that's fine. You're going to pay for it and have higher premiums," Summers said.

Insurance agent Bennita Wade has, and will, track policy-holders' risky behavior on Facebook.

"We have so many policy-holders who do the right thing, that this risky behavior can cost so much money," Wade said.

She says tracking behavior on Facebook can actually keep premiums down for responsible policy-holders. Neither the leading insurance agent trade group nor the national healthcare anti-fraud association keeps figures on how much money insurers have saved in premiums by snooping on policy holders Facebook pages.

But Patty Tredway with (one of the web's leading resources on Internet privacy) said, "Many industries, health insurers included, are using social media to compile detailed digital dossiers of individuals. They adjust claims and rates based on what they find about you online."

Tom Levin represents Nathalie Blanchard. She said anxiety and depression made it impossible for her to work anymore. Her employer's insurance representative ordered her to go on long-term disability insurance, but the insurance rep suddenly cut off her disability insurance after she posted comments about climbing a mountain and pictures of her partying at a local bar's Chippendales event.

"She told me that she has some picture on my Facebook and some sentences, and that she said that I am not sick," Blanchard said.

Blanchard's mistakes: not adjusting her Facebook settings and putting too much of her private life in the public eye.

Summers says people like Blanchard aren't punished for posting, he says they get what they deserve.

"If you're dumb enough to put anything on Facebook, Myspace or Twitter don't be surprised when someday, it reaches up and bites you," Summers said.

Louisville-based Humana sent us this statement:

"Humana does not utilize social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, in the research or fact-finding fashion you described, in any type of rate or coverage decisions for our members."

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