We all know employers use social media to screen potential job candidates, and it is not uncommon to see a politician wrapped up in a scandal because of photos or comments on Facebook or Twitter. But now your insurance company may be taking a look at your activities. But this isn’t the only way insurance companies invade your privacy and unfairly use irrational approaches to charge you more than you should pay. So, what does this mean for Columbus drivers, and what can you do to protect yourself? Columbus auto accident lawyers have a few suggestions.
Fear of Insurance Fraud Leads Insurance Companies to Look Everywhere
There is some dispute as to whether insurance fraud is as serious as insurance companies would have the public believe. Nevertheless, this has been used as the basis for passing many state laws around the country, allowing insurance companies greater ability to investigate claims. In some cases, these laws have allowed outright invasions of privacy. Here are a couple ways insurance companies really abuse the public.
Credit Scores and Insurance
Over the last 20 years or so, insurance companies have utilized credit scores in determining premiums. Consumers mostly know this and accept it as an unfortunate fact of life. After all, credit is used by employers, mortgage companies, lenders, car dealerships, and even the water company. Insurers argue that they use credit reports to look for evidence of fraud. For instance, a person is involved in a crash in January, but there is evidence of a pending foreclosure in December just prior. This may give the insurance company a clue as to a potential motive for seeking compensation.
But is this fair? As one consumer watchdog suggests, this is unfair because credit is not a good predictor of safe driving. Insurance companies use raw credit scores to actually determine rates, not just to look for fraud. Many people are safe drivers with no history of accidents or tickets, yet they may have suffered a bankruptcy or credit problems due to health problems or job loss. So, a person could actually be laid off due to a factory closing, and as a result quickly see insurance rates rise because he cannot pay bills on time. Safe drivers with poor credit often pay more than those with multiple tickets and accidents who have good credit. It’s just another way to justify high premiums.
Social Media No Longer Off-Limits
That’s right, insurance companies in some states are now able to scan your social media for evidence of unsafe habits and other predictive factors that may indicate a statistically higher likelihood of being in an accident. As some suggest, individuals who post “selfies” while driving are opening themselves to insurance denials or extreme rate hikes. This part of the equation makes a lot of sense, however. While quite the invasion, folks should realize that if they are uploading photos of themselves while driving, this could tell the insurance company you are a big risk. And don’t think that because you are parked, the insurance company will care. They will use anything, no matter how small, to justify those premium increases. This is the insurance game, and it is not designed in your favor.
Social Media After a Crash
This is a huge challenge for Columbus and auto accident lawyers who represent clients after accidents. One of the first things you will be advised to do is to sterilize or even possibly deactivate social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or any others that could hold images of you that are inconsistent with your injuries. Insurance companies have been known to present photos of injured parties at the beach and argue that the injuries are all fake. While many times completely untrue, these images make an impression on jurors and can really hurt a case.
Consider something as simple as a fractured leg. The injury was excruciating. It took six months to heal. You incurred over $30,000 in medical bills from multiple therapy visits, surgeries and time spent recovering in hospitals. You lost a month of work and almost lost your home. You have a pending claim that you hope to use to get back on your feet. This is precisely the purpose of the civil justice system – to make you complete and whole again.
Now, imagine six months after your injury you go to the beach with your family and spend almost the entire day confined to a chair because of the ongoing pain. However, you stand up for a minute to take a quick picture with your wife and children. Your wife posts the picture on social media. You are smiling and “look” just fine. Truth is, you are in pain and you have to sit down as soon as the photo is taken. Fast forward a year to a trial, and there is the picture on an overhead projector, while some defense attorney for the insurance company and negligent driver is arguing that you were doing fine just a few months after the crash. After all, it didn’t stop you from “frolicking on the beach.” All the explanations in the world will not erase that image from the juror’s minds. The lesson is this – avoid posting anything on social media. Even a quick comment about your pain can be misconstrued and made to look different from the medical evidence in your case.
A Columbus Auto Accident Attorney Can Help You Steer Clear of Problems Early
You may or may not have been aware of these insurance practices before reading this blog. And there are many other things the insurance companies do not want you to know about being injured in a car crash. You only have a short time to file a lawsuit if you are injured in Columbus. You can check out helpful tips and resources, and if injured in a car crash, you should immediately contact knowledgeable Columbus injury attorneys before you talk to the insurance company.