How Your Social Media Activity Could Affect Your Life Insurance Rates

How Your Social Media Activity Could Affect Your Life Insurance Rates

These days, everything -including the life insurance industry – is shaped and changed by the rapid influx of new technologies. The priority for insurers has always been growth, and growth is attained through superior customer service. The industry is also finding,  to considerable consternation and hand-wringing, that but the maverick nature of web-based technologies can make modern communication a minefield of subtle points of failure.

A study from Gartner Research says that there are ten new technologies making a big impact on how life insurance companies do business, from the way they interact with customers to the way they research potential policyholders.

Much of the change has to do with software, the report said, with companies not only adding programs to make transactions with customers run more smoothly and quickly, but also to make information processing information (for both customers and employees) more efficient.

Social media is playing a major role in this shift. Tools such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are used to drive awareness and studies show that more than 70 percent of insurers that distribute through independent agents do use social media. Connecting with other agents through social media can be less time-consuming.

And while companies that begin using social networking have found they can foster more interaction with their customers, some are also finding those interactions don’t always proceed according to plan.

Social media, the computer-mediated technologies taking over as the principal method of creating and sharing digital information, ideas, career interests and various other forms of expression, are interactive, Web 2.0 internet applications of increasing sophistication and reach. From their inception and ways to connect individuals, the technologies are now impacting spheres of influence from political races to marketing efforts, and the nuts-bolts behind the screen are often carefully masked to minimize a user’s discomfort.

A recent new report by the National Bureau of Economic Research has gone to the trouble of analyzing the theory that social media has fueled the American trend toward political-ideological extremism.

Another group of researchers,  at Stanford University and Brown University, compiled a report about political polarization using data gathered by the American National Election Studies and the Pew Research Center. The researchers then used that data to build profiles of the internet and social media usage of Americans by age demographic, and generally, the findings suggest that older Americans have been the most impacted by changes to their ideological stances recently. Those 75 years of age and older were the most likely to become more extreme in their beliefs, and while those between the ages of 18 and 39 (who are much more likely to be engaged on social platforms)  were affected, their likelihood to be swayed by was much lower over the same period of time.

To that point, a recent Pew study found only 34 percent of Americans at least 65 years old use at least one social media site. That’s markedly lower than the 64 percent of those between the ages of 50 and 64 years old and the 86 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 29.

The Stanford and Brown researchers found that “for every measure, except religious polarization, we see that the oldest age group experiences larger changes in polarization than the youngest age group.”

ATKearney reports that Allstate and Travelers, for example, are using their Facebook sites to build awareness and engage with consumers who are in the process of assessing and choosing an insurance provider. State Farm uses its Facebook pages both to connect with customers and to improve customer service, which are major components of its ongoing customer strategy.

But one change that may surprise some consumers is that life insurance companies are now monitoring social networking sites to find out if any of their policyholders are engaging in dangerous behavior that might affect their coverage.

The internet is the cornerstone of a major shift in many industries; it’s a streamliner for crucial business-to-consumer interaction that resulted in increased customer satisfaction. Companies that fail to keep up with the latest trends will likely risk their customer base as well, but they’ll also find that their wares become a harder sell with the passage of time…