Facebook And Twitter Usage Could Raise Your Home Insurance Premium By 10%

The home insurance premiums of Facebook and Twitter users could be raised by as much as 10%, according to a recent report. Social media and location aware services such as Facebook, Twitter, Buzz, Foursquare, Gowalla and others can alert criminals when a user is at a specific spot and not at their home.

This unintended usage of location based services was so aptly highlighted by the recent launch of PleaseRobMe, a new location based service, which streams updates from a host of location based networks to point out when a user is not at his home. The inherent conclusion, is that if a user is not at home, it is super easy to break into his home. Please Rob Me’s mission statement reads as follows:

The danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you’re definitely not… home. So here we are; on one end we’re leaving lights on when we’re going on a holiday, and on the other we’re telling everybody on the internet we’re not home. It gets even worse if you have “friends” who want to colonize your house. That means they have to enter your address, to tell everyone where they are. Your address.. on the internet.. Now you know what to do when people reach for their phone as soon as they enter your home. That’s right, slap them across the face.

The goal of this website is to raise some awareness on this issue and have people think about how they use services like Foursquare, Brightkite, Google Buzz etc.

For better or worse, home insurance companies are quick to take note of this situation. Darren Black, the head of home insurance at Confused.com, thinks that if these location based services goes mainstream, expect the insurance providers to raise the premium of people using such services by as much as 10%. As explained by Black:

I wouldn’t be surprised if, as social media grow in popularity and more location-based applications come to fore, insurance providers consider these in their pricing of an individual’s risk. We could see rises of up to 10pc for people who use these sites.

Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their information gathering, even using Google Earth and Streetview to plan their burglaries with military precision. Insurance providers are starting to take this into account when they are assessing claims and we may in future see insurers declining claims if they believe the customer was negligent.

Black has recommended users of location based services to never post their real home address or other personally identifiable information like postal code, phone numbers etc on social sites. The users are further advised to not friend people they don’t know. Confused.com has even gone as far as suggesting that individuals avoid location based services all together.

Do you think location based services reveal too much information? Do you see any value in such services? Should insurance companies be monitoring this information?

Home owner’s insurance icon from Spring Texas Real Estate.