It was surely only a matter of time: Admiral Insurance, one of the biggest insurers in Britain, announced this week it was to use data from Facebook to work out who to give lower insurance premiums to. In the face of not having a long history of driving, or any no-claims bonuses, first-time drivers would have their accounts analysed by Admiral.
NOV 03rd 2016
Erin Baker – when social media and insurance come together
The insurer would be looking for people who had well-organised accounts, and who used lots of lists as a way of ordering their information, to make judgements about their probable driving characteristics, and set the premiums accordingly. Someone, for example, who uses a lot of exclamation marks in their Facebook posts, might be judged to be overconfident, and their premiums set accordingly (obviously they should be penalised for bad grammar alone, but that’s another story).
After complaints about breaches of privacy, and the idea flying in the face of Facebook’s policy of not letting its user data affect eligibility for commercial products, the idea has now been adapted so Facebook users must go to Admiral directly if they are interested in participating.
The interesting thing in all of this though, is that the young people themselves were, in their words, well up for it. One young female driver interviewed on Radio4 yesterday said the scheme stood to cut her premium by £300 a year. That’s a not-insignificant contribution towards the bottomless beer fund students require. She, and many like her, had no qualms whatsoever about sharing their Facebook accounts with Admiral, if it stood to save them money.
The thing about this Generation Z, the demographic born after millennials, is that they are for more receptive towards the collaborative economy than you or I. They don’t expect to own a car; they expect to do a car pool, or car club, or Uber, or simply have one of a fleet of Google Pods turn up at their door in a few years’ time. They expect to share driveways, and public transport. They already share their entire lives on social media with their followers, and build up such huge audiences that they forget who they’re sharing intimate details with in the first place. But, if everyone’s doing it, what do they care?
And so Admiral, while it may have fallen foul of Facebook’s own data privacy laws with its first shot at using social profiles as a way of determining insurance premiums, certainly hasn’t fallen foul of its target audience, who seem bang up for the idea. Mark my words: this has just opened a raft of similar schemes which have long been in the pipeline, and anyone posting their personal stuff on social media had better believe that their data is the start of a new common currency. Most of Generation Z can’t wait to get started.
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