From Claim Investigations to Underwriting: Social Media Research in Insurance

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There’s no doubt that social media networking has changed the way people interact. Used daily by over 70% of the US population, social media has contributed to an increasing amount of publicly available information. People love 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.

Let’s take a deeper dive into how social media is currently being used in the insurance field, and what implications this may have for the future:

Industry trends

With a wealth of information online, most insurers have started heavily incorporating social media research into fraud detection departments. Some of the most common use cases for social media investigations are those involving workers compensation, disability claims, and determining claimant relationships.

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 contain posts that would not typically be shared with an entire network of friends, which can lead to the discovery of valuable content. 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. Most insurance teams do not have the capabilities necessary to dedicate to every individual case, which means that crucial information is likely being overlooked. 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 would’ve thought that 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, and as such, 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.