We’ve written in the past that it might happen, but now it might be nearly here: insurers are trying to use social media to assess the risk of their policyholders. It was all over the press recently and while at the moment it’s for car insurance (which we don’t get involved with), other insurance cannot be far behind.
Apparently Admiral Insurance was all set to launch a new car insurance product which was going to use Facebook to ‘evaluate the personalities of motorists and determine their car premiums’, according to The Guardian. This would be restricted to first-time car owners to begin with. And the company stressed that this wouldn’t be used to increase premiums but rather to reduce them if Facebook data showed that applicants were likely to be careful drivers.
For example, Admiral was proposing to look at whether the person concerned was conscientious and well organised. Indicators would include ‘writing in short sentences, using lists, and arranging to meet friends at a set time and place, rather than just “tonight”’. Those who used phrases such as ‘always’ or ‘never’ rather than ‘maybe’ or who frequently used exclamation marks would be regarded as over-confident. Good grief!
But then came the storm…. Facebook waded in, saying this breached its privacy rules, and as a result Admiral pulled its new product less than two hours before it was due to be launched. Facebook’s platform policy states that its data must not be used to ‘make decisions about eligibility, including whether to approve or reject an application or how much interest to charge on a loan’.
But it seems that Facebook had been aware of the product for months before this public spat as Admiral has been testing it for quite a while. Even more ominously The Guardian reports that Admiral and Facebook ‘remain in talks about trying to revive the product’.
The world has gone mad.