From Claim Investigations to Underwriting: Social Media Research in Insurance

computer screen social media evidence

There’s no doubt that social media networking has changed the way people interact. Social media has contributed to an increasing amount of publicly available information. Over 70% of people use social media to share and promote themselves, what they’re doing, and with whom. For insurance professionals, this presents an excellent opportunity to leverage social media data to help save time and money.

Industry trends

With a wealth of information online, most insurers have started heavily incorporating social media research into fraud detection departments. Workers compensation, disability claims, and relationship verification are some of the most common use cases of social media investigations.

The challenges of social media investigations

Though it may seem relatively straightforward to perform social media research, the reality is that as of now, many insurers rely solely on claims management and SIU personnel to conduct these investigations. This can lead to challenges and negatively impact a company’s bottom line for a few different reasons:

  • False positives: Capturing online data from someone that is believed to be the subject, but actually isn’t, is a costly mistake that insurers cannot afford to make. It is important to have proper authentication tools that can verify the identity of a subject.
  • Aliases: It is not uncommon for everyday social media users to have more than one account on social media platforms. In fact, “finsta”, a term used for “fake Instagram”, is an extremely popular trend among Gen Z Instagram users. “Finsta” accounts do not often contain posts meant for sharing with an network of friends. The content can be valuable to discovery despite its discrete nature. Being able to locate this content, however, requires expertise and training.
  • General lack of time and resources: Sometimes it may take hours to go through content on just a single Twitter feed. Proper resources and skills are necessary to avoid overlooking crucial information. And most insurance teams do not have the resources needed to properly investigate subjects online. SMI Aware analysts utilize proprietary technology to narrow search results and analyze every possible outlet, leaving no stone unturned.

Future of social media in insurance

In addition to fraud detection and claims management, insurers will soon turn to social media and web data to aid in the underwriting process. In fact, This past January, the New York Department of Financial Services was the first to provide guidance at a state level as to how life insurers can use algorithms to search social media posts to determine an applicant’s risk factor.

According to an article from WSJ, this guidance “comes amid the expectation that in the next few years, social media data will be among the standard materials reviewed to determine issuance of life insurance as well as vehicle and property policies.” Who knew posting photos from an adventurous rock-climbing expedition on Instagram could one day lead to an increased life-insurance premium?

Effectively sourcing web data is the future. Insurance professionals must be equipped with the proper tools and knowledge to remain adaptable in this ever-changing environment. Partnering with third-party experts who can provide support and expertise is an excellent way to begin navigating this process in order to help save valuable time and resources.

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