At some point, everyone has been guilty of doing this on the computer. You’ve just booked a dream vacation to an exotic getaway and you can’t wait to post about it online and share your enviable news with the world. Pretty soon, you’re letting everyone you’ve ever met – and some you haven’t – know about every detail of your exciting adventure. Though it seems harmless, these types of announcements are increasingly getting homeowners into trouble. While most readers will be close family and friends of the user, many individuals leave their accounts unsecured, meaning anyone can read their updates and peruse their photos. Even something as simple as a vacation notice and a few snaps can lead to a huge nightmare.
Providing the major details of a trip lets anyone know when you’ll be half-a-world away and your property will be empty. Even worse, most profiles contain geographic information, meaning these same groups can know exactly where your house is located. Some digital photos even tag their exact location on a Google map, meaning pictures can unknowingly lead strangers right to your front door.
This situation is becoming such a problem that insurance companies are starting to take notice. After all, your policy would be affected if you neglected to close the front door or forgot to set the alarm. Why should this be any different?
A whopping 78% of burglars admit to viewing their victim’s social media to scope out details of their property and schedules. Increasingly, Canadian and U.S. insurance companies are posting warnings to policy owners about the dangers of sharing private information in an online space. In Britain, companies have taken this a step further and allowed their staff to monitor a claimant’s digital profile in order to determine their ability to collect on a claim. According to these insurers, families who provide highly personal data online are actually aiding burglars and should not be eligible to receive funds from the aftermath of a robbery.
It might seem extreme but home insurance, in general, is subject to many factors that could void a policy unexpectedly. If doors and windows are accidentally left unlocked or trips are deemed too long, a family recovering from a burglary could find themselves without any help from their insurance provider.
Although few companies have an official policy relating to Facebook, and Twitter at the moment, it wouldn’t be surprising to see these additions in the future. Insurers are also likely to use social platforms in the coming years to help determine costs and eligibility for certain policy categories. After all, photos and notes on the digital space paint a full picture of a person’s lifestyle and can showcase any dangerous habits.
Regardless of the insurance aftermath, individuals should refrain from over-sharing on social media to proactively protect their own property and valuables. Sharing albums full of tourist snaps is perfectly acceptable – after the vacation when the homeowner is safely back in their house.