A few days before the holidays, I received a press release touting Mercury Insurance's tips for staying safe on social media during the holidays. The release contained tips from the Los Angeles-based P&C insurer included tips from its chief claims officer, Joanna Moore, on how homeowners can prevent their social media activities from exposing vulnerabilities over the holiday season. With social media's place in the claims organization a hot topic, I reached out to Moore to get some more information about how social media fits into her claims process.
Insurance & Technology: What piqued your interest in peoples' social media practices?
Joanna Moore: People are updating their Facebook page and say that they just checked in at the airport. It's telling people where you are at any given moment. I think people don't realize the possible consequences of doing that. There are bad elements that are trying to find opportunities to go to peoples' homes when they're overseas. It's the awareness that people need to start thinking about.
I&T: Does Mercury include social media in its investigations of claims?
JM: We have an opportunity on injury claims to look at various social networking sites and research the people making allegations that seem either exaggerated or potentially fraudulent. But we're judicious in our investigation of any types of claims using social networking. I would never want anyone at our company to pretend to be a friend in order to gain access to information. I refer all those suspicious claims to a special investigative unit, and they would probably be reviewed by someone who knows the rules, laws and regulations. We're not combing the internet for info on every Mercury customer. It's a very select group of files.
[Read how CNA's SIU uses social media in its investigations.]
I&T: Do you think that if people adopt the kinds of social media practices you recommended, that the channel won't be as effective for claims investigation?
JM: Some people will become more conservative in their use, but I think it's so prevalent out there, they have a tendency to think this will never happen to me. The same thing happens when we say, "Don't leave your purses or bags visible in your car." People still do that all the time and then come out surprised that their car was broken into.
I&T: That being said, do you think there's a danger that insurers could face criticism for doing these investigations? It seems people want to be open on social media.
JM: It's incumbent on us to investigate claims that don't meet the criteria. And the insurance companies might be using this to get to the truth about a claim, but the attorneys who are suing our insureds are doing the same thing. For example, if you're a defendant in a lawsuit because you ran a red light and caused damage or injuries to someone else, they're going to be looking for those photos that prove that you were irresponsible.
Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio