Social media posts could affect insurance costs, experts say

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Insurance companies may start looking to an individual's social media accounts to determine an applicant's risk for life, car and property insurance, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Three things to know:

1. Within the next few years, insurance underwriters may use automated reports based on an individual's social media usage and posted content to assess potential customers.

"We're going through a period now where most life insurers are exploring using all types of data, not just data they get directly from the customer proactively, but other external sources of data — social media being a big one," Ari Libarikian, a senior partner at management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., told The Wall Street Journal.

2. To avoid high insurance premiums, social media users should post content that highlights healthy activities rather than risk-like behaviors.

"Paragliding, ice-climbing, riding a motorcycle while drinking a beer: They are a little over the top, but honestly, I've been surprised at what people post," Mike Vogt, executive director of data and analytics at insurance consulting firm SPR, told The Wall Street Journal. "That history never goes away, even if you remove the post a few hours later."

3. Technology that analyzes individuals' social media accounts to apply to underwriting decisions is still underdeveloped, and insurers are not confident that it is "better" than current sources, such as application questions and blood and urine samples, according to the report.

To access the full report, click here.

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