Insurance fraud is the bitter enemy of any carrier. The conservative estimate is that fraud costs the insurance industry $80 billion each year. It can take away jobs, ruin lives, and increase premiums. All in all, it’s just the worst. However, current technology offers a tool to help fight back. That tool? You guessed it: It’s social media.
Social Media as an Investigation Tool
It’s amazing what some people will post on social media.
Unfortunately for claims adjusters, spotting fraud isn’t usually as simple as that. Many people who commit insurance fraud are good at covering their tracks — or they think they are. Although it’s extremely rare that someone blatantly admits on social media that they’ve committed insurance fraud, their online profiles give insurance agencies windows into claimants’ everyday lives. This can expose patterns that, when they don’t line up with incident reports, can save a company from having to pay out a fraudulent claim.
Take an injury claim, for example. Your client is in a car accident, and the other party claims debilitating injuries. Days later, Instagram photos show the injured party running in a local 5K. That’s clear evidence that the claimant’s injuries weren’t as serious as reported. Social media just saved your company time and money with an investigation that required minimal resources.
Social media can help your agency find other missing pieces to a claims puzzle, as well. If two people involved in an accident claim to be strangers, but a quick search reveals that they follow each other on social media, then that’s certainly cause to probe further into the matter. Social network analysis technology can also help determine connections between people, locations and businesses, and can help to identify claimants with multiple accounts. Suspicious activity — such as multiple claims coming from one particular family or related group of people — can be pinpointed and investigated more thoroughly.
While social media gives a huge advantage to insurance agencies in investigating claims, real fraud-stopping power comes from preventing it in the first place.
Changing the Way Your Followers Think of Fraud
As seen in the above tweet, some social media users see insurance fraud in the light of either a clever joke, or as a way to get rich quick with minimal effort. Many aren’t aware of the real damage that insurance fraud can cause, and it’s up to insurance agents to start that conversation with their clients.
The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud*** has an ongoing campaign to help deter insurance fraud, and to sway public opinion of fraud as an easy means of acquiring wealth. Their Twitter is a great example of how social media can be used to spread information and decrease fraud. One easy way to promote this mindset on your social media pages is to follow them and share their posts.
Convincing your followers that insurance fraud is an awful act isn’t the easiest thing to do — after all, you’re an insurance agent, so of course you’re against fraud. Therefore, the key is to focus on how insurance fraud impacts everyone involved. Share articles, images and posts that highlight points such as:
-Committing insurance fraud can ruin your life (fines, jail time)
-Fraud victimizes everyone
-Fraud increases premiums
Additionally, organizations such as the above-mentioned Coalition Against Insurance Fraud offer rewards to those who report insurance fraud. Incentives like these can help increase the number of incidents that are reported, and discourage fraudulent claims before they happen.
Partnering with other agencies to fight fraud can also increase the effectiveness of these strategies. For example, Fraud NY is an alliance of insurance companies dedicated to fighting fraud in New York. They post daily, and have a growing follower base of nearly 7,000. Together, they can reach more people than a single insurance agency.
Think about it: If you can stop even one fraudster, you’re already saving your company thousands of dollars. Social media makes it easy to decrease fraud — and it doesn’t even take that much effort. If there’s just one cost-effective strategy you implement for your company, then stopping fraud in its tracks with the power of social media should be it.