Wahington (WiredPRNews.com) A new report from research firm Celent that says car insurers may soon be using data from social networking sites to help underwrite and rate policyholders highlights the concerns surrounding the use of certain types of data to help assess risk, according to Online Auto Insurance (OAI).
More people of all ages are using social media these days, and the report says that means a treasure trove of information that insurers could use to more accurately gauge risk among clients and potential customers.
Companies could access that data by offering auto insurance discounts to those who volunteer their social data, thus getting past privacy settings. Or they could seek “friend” status to gain access to information that would otherwise be private, according to the report.
The researchers point out that a host of legal and ethical issues must still be sorted out, especially since regulation of social networks has lagged behind their growth.
The Celent report invites comparisons to other somewhat controversial methods employed by insurers to improve their ability to set policy rates by more accurately determining risk on the part of policyholders.
For example, insurers have long supported the practice of using a person’s credit history to help set premiums, pointing out that statistics show credit status is a reliable predictor of risk that allows companies to more accurately set rates.
Consumer advocates and other critics have claimed “insurance scoring” is unfairly discriminatory and leads to the highest rates being forced on those who can least afford them.
And insurers have encountered resistance from some consumer advocates and regulators regarding discount programs that use devices installed in vehicles to track mileage, driving habits and other information.
According to OAI, the spread of social networking could make privacy concerns surrounding insurers’ use of social data an issue for a long time to come.
The Pew Research Center reported in August that 65 percent of adult Internet users are involved with social media sites—up from just 8 percent in 2005.
To learn more about this and ways to compare car insurance quotes from a variety of companies in any state, readers can go to http://www.onlineautoinsurance.com/discounts/ where they will find informative resource pages and a rate-comparison generator that can help users quickly evaluate their coverage options.