Social media can be used against you by insurance companies

October 12, 2011 4:26:59 PM PDT
Facebook and Twitter are a great way to stay in touch and speak your mind, but your party pictures and postings could get you trouble with your insurance company. That's because your insurance company could use what you post to raise your premium or deny your claim.

Kurt Nordland never dreamed photos he posted on his Facebook page would create huge problems. The pictures that show him drinking a beer and relaxing with his pals were seen by investigators from the insurance company paying his worker's comp benefits. His insurance company cancelled his payments, cut off his medical benefits and Nordland had to delay surgery to repair torn cartilage in his shoulder.

He said, "I was extremely surprised they could just go on your Facebook and pull these pictures out."

What happened to Nordland is part of a new trend happening across the country -- insurance companies snooping in social media.

Depending on your privacy settings, they could see every tweet, Facebook photo or MySpace update. If insurance investigators think you're dabbling in risky business you could pay higher premiums. If they think you're faking an injury, you could face coverage cancellation.

Attorney Gary Massey said, "If they find anything that's embarrassing or anything they can use to paint you in a bad light, that's when it shows up in the case."

The Insurance Information Institute says absolutely some companies monitor people's social media pages, mostly to find potential fraud, which makes everyone's premiums more expensive.

"Insurance fraud costs the insurance industry and consumers about $30 million each year," explained Jeanne Salvatore with the Insurance Information Institute.

The insurance industry says it will continue to watch and if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to worry about.

Nordland says he was honest and medical records prove his on the job shoulder injury is legit. His attorney had to fight the insurance company over the pictures before a labor board and won.

But Kurt warns, "You have to be real careful!"

Experts say if you aren't careful with your privacy settings, people who are not your Facebook friends can see photos you've posted, updates you've given, even places you've "checked in."


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