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Comment: On holiday? Don’t tell social media

Social media has infiltrated just about every aspect of our lives. From selfie sharing to cat memes, often these public platforms appear harmless. However, at First Complete and Pink, we are taking a look into how social media might be causing a potential threat to your clients and their insurance policies.

Have you ever uploaded a holiday snap to Facebook? How about posting a picture-perfect sunset on Instagram? It is these trivial actions that we often don’t think twice about, that could not only increase the risk of burglary but actually cause your client’s insurance policy to be negated.

A study published earlier this year saw that 78 per cent of burglars used social media to select potential houses to target, looking for key information such as airport check ins and pictures of boarding passes. Often, insurance company polices state that you must take ‘reasonable care’ in securing your home and its possessions, which includes being discreet about any holidays. Advertising you are away from your property may be viewed as reckless by insurers which could potentially invalidate policyholders’ cover.

The Association of British Insurers have warned homeowners to be careful when posting about holidays on social media. Even checking-in to a location on Facebook to highlight an individual’s whereabouts could be enough for an insurer to refuse a pay-out.

Premier League footballer John Terry is a prime example of how sharing holiday snaps online can result in advertising a burglar’s dream. Whilst on an Alpine skiing holiday with his family earlier this year, Terry posted images to his Instagram account which led to a break-in to his mansion in Surrey. Amongst the goods stolen was more than £400,000 worth of valuables, including first edition Harry Potter books valued at £18,000.

The ordeal left Terry wondering which of his 3.5 million followers might have been responsible for the theft and caused him to learn the hard way that posting holiday snaps, unfortunately, can lead to crime. Whilst it was reported his insurance company did pay out, a comment from the judge who dealt with Terry’s court case said: “It might have been a mistake to post a family photograph on social media to show that he was away on holiday. His home was deliberately targeted and the master bedroom suite was ransacked.”

Insurers are already using computer programmes to check policyholders’ social media profiles before deciding if they are going to pay out or not in the United States. As the current social media climate continues to dominate virtually every sphere of our lifestyles, it wouldn’t be surprising if the UK doesn’t adopt similar tactics.

At First Complete and Pink, we are advising brokers to remind clients that posting holiday photos on social media could leave them more vulnerable to a burglary and even worse, their household insurer may not pay out if goods are stolen. Whilst we all enjoy a good holiday snap, it is a case of ensuring clients are aware of the terms and conditions of their policy. If holiday cover is limited to a certain amount of days per trip – typically 30 days – if the policyholder has posted backpacking pictures on social media of their three-month travels, they could have a little explaining to do.

Hannah Tasker is development manager for GI and group products at First Complete and Pink

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