Social Premium

Posted by Marketing on November 10, 2016


What does your social media persona say about you? Are you conscientious, bold, daring, or introverted? Do you like Michael Jordan? While this may seem like an odd line of questioning, it could be the difference of a few hundred pounds on your premiums.

British insurer, Admiral recently attempted to trial a new screening process to determine the type of driver someone is by analysing their online personality. The scheme aimed to detect personality traits through the use of language and ‘likes’ on your Facebook page to highlight key characteristics of your personality.

Are you someone who uses words like ‘always’ and ‘never’, then you are deemed likely to be a confident individual. Do you find it difficult to commit to dates and times? You’re probably the cautious type. While this may seem like hocus pocus there is a method to the madness.

Developed by psychology expert Dr Yossi Borenstein, a specialist in language use and its link to behaviour, the scheme would only be used to save money on insurance premiums.

The key issue here is the assumption that someone’s social media presence is a true reflection of themselves. The need to be ‘cool’ and ‘included’ can often see people exaggerate on online, something which could see them stereotyped as a bad driver.

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” - Nathaniel Hawthorne

Not so fast

While Admiral planned on trialling this as an opt-in process to drivers, Facebook has stepped in with a firm ‘no’ stance on their customer’s data being used.

While we have probably all seen the ridiculous copy, and paste statuses imploring us to change our privacy settings to ensure Facebook don’t sell information on our favourite colour to Crayola, in truth, Facebook is actually fairly staunch in their commitment to protecting user data.

Facebook have described Admiral’s plans as being intrusive, effectively derailing them and putting a nail in the coffin of Dr Yossi Borenstein’s plans of retiring early.

Facebook's open top bus

Before you plan Facebook’s open top bus parade through the streets it’s definitely worth taking a moment to think about how the use of data has benefited us as a whole.

  • Facebook’s use of data has allowed them to tailor advertising and news content specifically for our own interests. Gone are the days of annoying content that has no relevance in your life, replaced by more things to spend your money on…
  • Operating systems within mobile phones have become more sophisticated in recent years due to the use of personal data. By learning how you interact with your phone and its applications, operating systems are able to be tailored giving you a level of personal interaction we never thought possible

While some have vilified Admiral for their plans to use social media to save people money, others see it as a positive step in the right direction. For instance, currently insurance quotes can be based on a number of variables including:

  • Car insurance groups
  • Claims history
  • Drivers
  • Driving conditions
  • Medical conditions
  • Mileage
  • Occupation
  • Security
  • Vehicle value
  • Vehicle age
  • Vehicle use
  • Address

While some of the information may be relevant, such as security, insurance grouping, value and age of the vehicle, there are a number of options which take into account archaic information and stereotypes.

For instance, if there had been a number of accidents near my postcode in the past 30 years I could find myself being quoted a high premium. It doesn’t matter what caused those accidents or the fact that I am a careful and conscientious driver. With that in mind, I struggle to see how drivers wouldn’t welcome the chance for insurers to delve deeper and create a more tailored quote that doesn’t involve four accidents happening in your area three years ago.

Where Admiral go from here is anyone’s guess, but I for one will be interested to see how they adapt to this setback and whether they continue to evolve their way of quoting for insurance. As for Facebook, I imagine that they will continue with their crusade to change the way we interact online, although just how deep the rabbit hole goes is still up for debate.

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