Celent Says

E-Reputation Insurance and Trusting Social Data

Nicolas Michellod
Insurance Experts' Forum, April 4, 2012

Some insurers are starting to launch e-reputation insurance products for individuals. Indeed, in France, Swiss Life started to launch an insurance product last year targeting students about to start a professional career or any persons worrying about data and information regarding themselves on the Web. Very recently Axa France also launched a similar insurance product.

While it’s been a while since we have been speaking about how insurers can leverage social network data in claims or in underwriting, it seems some of them just apply the simple rule that recognizes these types of data as a new business opportunity. Yet with the importance of self-image and reputation of the public (not only the young ones), and the risk it presents them, I tend to think this is an interesting field to investigate.

In the case of Swiss Life, the insurer uses a dedicated e-reputation agency called Reputation Squad and, for a bit less than €10 ($15) per month, the insured can action the insurer’s e-reputation agency, who will try to put pressure on website or social network owners and ask them to erase data using the threat of a battery of juridical means.

Of course, it’s almost impossible to erase all types of data related to a person from sites and social networks on the net, and it is here that the real issue appears. If there is still data left after all the juridical measures have been triggered, the insurance service proposes to flood existing data with a mass of positive information and data content about the insured.

While I think there is certainly a need to fulfill with regard to insurers proposing specific juridical assistance to erase data about their insured from social networks and specific websites, I think flooding the Web with exclusively positive information about a person demonstrates how harmful open data on the Web can be. It raises two simple but important questions for insurers:

1. Can we trust information publicly available on social networks?

2. If external sources - in our case, insurers in the frame of their obligation toward insureds with regard to e-reputation insurance products, but we can assume insurers are not and will not be the only external sources playing a role here - start flooding the web with biased data about individuals, is it really a case to leverage social network data for claims and underwriting in the long run?

Addressing these questions should be according to me the starting point of an evaluation to invest in technologies whose objectives are to leverage social network data.

This blog has been reprinted with permission from Celent.

Nicolas Michellod is a senior analyst in Celent's insurance practice, and can be reached at nmichellod@celent.com.

The opinions posted in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News or SourceMedia.

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