How posting updates on social media could ruin your home cover

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Thousands of holidaymakers are unknowingly risking financial ruin by tagging themselves in pictures, updating statuses and telling people where and when they’re away on social media. 02_gadgets

The problem for policy holders is that the police are increasingly linking burglaries and break-ins to people’s social media use, and insurance companies are taking note.

Update at your peril if you’re going away!

Updates on social media sites, combined with some of the personal information many people make openly available on such sites, can be a green light to thieves.

And to home insurance companies, such online behaviour might be a breach of a policy’s terms, showing the insured isn’t taking ‘reasonable care’ as it can leave your possessions vulnerable to burglary.

You wouldn’t advertise being away ‘on your front lawn’!

Although no claims have yet to be denied in the UK by insurers on such grounds, it’s starting to happen in the US, where insurers now regularly check a claimants social media use before making pay outs.

Given how the US tends to lead in financial matters, and how the use of social media is so widespread, it seems only a matter of time before insurers follow suit here.

Those who are compulsive and regular tweeters, Facebook posters and Instagram updaters should take note of recent warnings from the Financial Ombudsman, which pointed out that “You wouldn’t put a poster up on your front lawn saying you’re going on holiday for a few weeks, then don’t post the same thing online with your home details to a bunch of strangers.”

Longer trips also an issue

The same issue faces those that go away for an extended break, perhaps while between jobs or when simply taking a well-earned longer holiday.

Most policies only allow you to be away from the insured property for a maximum of 4 weeks. If you’re away for more than the specified time, and something happens to your property which you then claim for, the claim could be rejected.

So if you post a series of messages and pictures on social media which form a time line of how where and for how long you were away, and the insurer then won’t pay out, you probably only have yourself to blame.

It’s also potentially an even more serious situation than for a robbery. With burglary, you’re generally only going to lose items which can be carried out of a home. But if your house catches fire and destroys both your home and its contents, you could be even worse off.

What can you do to protect yourself?

To view and adjust your privacy settings on Facebook

  1. Click in the upper-right corner of any Facebook page.
  2. Select Settings from the dropdown menu.
  3. Select Privacy on the left.
  4. Click a setting (ex: Who can see your future posts?) to edit it.

To view and adjust your privacy settings on Twitter:

  1. Go to your Security and privacy settings.
  2. Scroll down to the Tweet privacy section and check the box next to Protect my Tweets.
  3. Click the blue Save button at the bottom of the page. You will be prompted to enter your password to confirm the change.

Check what information you’ve listed on your Facebook profile

  1. Click your name to view your profile
  2. Click Account
  3. Review what information you have listed.
  4. Remove any personal information, like your phone number, address and date of birth

Check who can see your old Facebook posts

  1. Click  the arrow at the top right of any Facebook page and choose Settings
  2. Select Privacy from the left menu
  3. Under the Who can see my stuff? section, click Limit the audience for posts I’ve shared with friends of friends or Public?
  4. Click Limit Old Posts

 

Policy Expert

If your home is your haven, you’ll want it to have the best protection. Compare home insurance quotes from our range of handpicked insurers and tailor a policy to suit you. For more information speak to one of our experts on 0330 0600 600 or email ask@policyexpert.co.uk

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.