Are You Tweeting Your Way to Higher Premiums?

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social media affecting home insuranceAre you announcing your whereabouts on Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, or other social media platforms?

The pitfalls of too much sharing have been all too evident lately, with a rash of robberies and destructive party-crashings after the victims publicized their plans on social media sites.

Apparently, insurance companies have noticed as well. Be warned: You could be one status update away from higher home insurance premiums. (#OMG. #HigherHomeInsurance?)

At least, this is the speculation of the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph.
The Daily Telegraph quotes Darren Black, the head of home insurance at Confused.com, a site for comparing insurance rates. Black said: "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."

WalletPop reports that, while possible in theory, in practice it would be difficult to monitor individual policy holders. At least, that's what David Hilgen, a spokesperson for Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, a property and casualty insurer based in Warren, NJ, seems to think. He's quoted as saying, "We don't monitor this kind of activity. Who has the time to do that?"

Well, maybe not busy insurance companies. But an unscrupulous individual with the motive and the time might be watching your whereabouts online to pinpoint the best time to pounce.

With all the digital interconnectedness, some privacy seeking people have been moved to do something drastic: log off forever. There are sites that exist to help people commit "social network suicide" by permanently deleting all their online profiles, friends, messages and log-ins. (One site, the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine, has been dubbed "a digital Dr. Kevorkian" by TechCrunch).

But not so fast: while your profile is permanently deleted, it still lives on the great cache in the Internet sky. Lawsuits abound concerning your "right" to delete your online profiles. So, your digital "suicide" doesn't solve everything.

To protect your online privacy -- and possibly your home insurance rates -- think twice before announcing to strangers in real time where you are in real life. Even if you're just chill'n at home. You never know who's watching.
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