Commentary

Social Burglary, U.K. Style

In case anyone thinks the risk of theft resulting from over-sharing on social networks is fabricated, a new report from the Association of British Insurers is warning that home insurance premiums may rise up to 10% this year. While the ABI report didn't list specific numbers, it made clear that the potential hike is due, in part, to an increase in home invasions resulting from people revealing their whereabouts on social networks.

According to the ABI report, around 40% of British social network users post their holiday plans online, while roughly a third reveal their ordinary weekend plans. A spokesman for the ABI told the Daily Mail, "It is advisable not to put information on a public Web site that could leave your home or belongings vulnerable, such as letting people know when you are going to be away on holiday," noting that this could be considered part of the "minimum security requirements" for homeowners in their home insurance policies. In the same vein, the British company Legal & General warned that burglars could use this kind of information from social networks to build "hit lists."

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Getting to brass tracks, industry watchers warned that, in future, some insurers may cite ill-advised social network postings as grounds for denying burglary-related property claims, of which there were approximately $7.2 billion paid out in 2008 -- when the number of burglaries and the average claim size both increased over 2007.

Separately, reports found that older homeowners are a safer home insurance risk, meaning younger adults (with their greater propensity for social networking) could be hit with a double whammy if insurance premiums go up. This seems quite likely: at the current rate, U.K. property claims are projected to increase to $8.7 billion in 2014.

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