Once the province of teenagers, social media platforms have become a prominent form of communication with family and friends. Although websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and others provide a way to let people know what is going on in your life, the information and photos on social media sites can undermine a legitimate insurance claim.
Because insurance carriers now routinely troll social media pages for information that will justify application of a policy exclusion or limit the value of an insurance claim, policyholders must be extremely cautious about the nature of the content they post on social media pages. Many unsuspecting folks presume that personal information is kept safe behind passwords in restricted areas of Facebook and similar sites. However, these half measures offer little or no protection if you become embroiled in litigation with your insurance carrier.
Insurance companies often submit broad discovery requests for information posted on social media websites when they are processing a claim. It can be difficult to anticipate the types of information or pictures that might compromise a policyholder’s claim. Photos posted of a family gathering in front of the family home might give rise to a claim of negligent maintenance. Similarly, an insurance carrier might use pictures of you rearranging boxes in your garage if you are submitting an insurance claim based on a back injury against your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage or a long-term disability policy.
Because the widespread popularity of social media is a recently new phenomenon, courts are still finding their way in terms of determining the rights of parties in litigation to obtain access to information that has been hidden in password protected areas. Generally, information posted on the public areas of Facebook and its ilk will be fair game in litigation. The issue is more complex when insurance companies seek information in areas of social media sites that are protected by security features, such as the need to login with a password. Hacks of celebrity websites that have resulted in the release of intimate photos demonstrate the legitimate expectation that users of these websites have that private and sensitive information will be protected.
If you have an active claim or are engaged in litigation, before you post anything new on your social media page, you should speak to your attorney.
You can reach Miami Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].