The Money Shot: social media spying

A man looking at a tablet computer through a magnifying class
Who's spying on your social media?
"They can examine a customer's online presence, their alcohol and drug use, social connections and life events"
  • | by Emily Bater

Hiding social media hijinks from employers is something we're all fairly good at by now.

Embarrassing pictures of you in fancy dress during university have long been locked down, seen only by your friends and in your nightmares. But new rules could mean someone else checking out your Twitter and Facebook feeds – your insurer.

According to reports this week, potential rule changes mean that customers who swear or use violent language on social media may find themselves paying more for their cover.

American company Social Intelligence is in talks with insurers in the UK to introduce software that can analyse how policyholders use social media, to determine how much of a risk they pose and decide what kind of price they should pay for cover.

An insurer keeping tabs on social media profiles isn't a new tactic. If you brag about being on holiday by posting pictures or updates and are then burgled, your insurer may use this as a reason not to pay out money on any claims you make.  But insurers using social media to analyse the risk customers pose is a new tool in their arsenal – and potentially a costly one.

So what are insurers going to be looking at? According to Social Intelligence's website, they can examine a customer's online presence, their alcohol and drug use, social connections and life events to calculate how much of a risk you are.

And according to the firm, if you have 200 LinkedIn connections, an email address you've been using for five years and an active Facebook profile you're a lower risk than someone without.

So what would these potential changes mean for tech-phobic grandparents, or that high-minded friend who refuses to use Facebook? We're off to check our privacy settings...

News in brief

The DVLA paperless licence change could complicate hiring a car abroad this summer as car hire firms are confused about the new rules.

UK house prices saw a 1% rise in April, according to Nationwide, meaning growth is at its highest since June 2014.

Just 43 homes in London are affordable for first-time buyers, according to housing charity Shelter. Fewer than one in five homes for sale in England are within the reach of young families.

In the first quarter of 2015, the number of people becoming insolvent dropped to its lowest level since 2005.

On Covered this week's resident car insurance expert has something on his mind.

Kristian Dando catches up with award-winning blogger Tom Bellingham.

Derri Dunn asks what's the best-value way to buy breakdown cover?

Join us next Friday for another relentlessly stimulating instalment of the Money Shot. Until then, email us your letters