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Admiral looks at social media to gauge risk in younger drivers

By  for Financial Times

Insurer to crunch through Facebook posts to work out who merits a lower premium.

UK-based Insurer Admiral has come up with a way to crunch through social media posts to work out who deserves a lower premium. People who seem cautious and deliberate in their choice of words are likely to pay a lot less than those with overconfident remarks.

So ditch the exclamation marks and enthusiasm, and replace them with caution, hesitancy and carefully composed lists. The language you use in your Facebook comments might be worth a lot more than you realise.

Admiral is set to try out the system on a new product called firstcarquote, which will provide car insurance to 17 to 21-year-olds. If customers agree to let the company look through their Facebook posts they could be eligible for discounts of up to £350 although the trial has not yet been launched.

“The way you write and the things you post online are shaped by your personality,” said Yossi Borenstein, an independent adviser, who helped develop the software.

“If you are a super-organised person, you are likely to take more time travelling so you are not likely to be in a hurry. An organised person might write things in a list or might be more specific rather than vague when it comes to arrangements.

“An overconfident person will use phrases such as ‘always’, ‘never’ and exclamation marks rather than ‘maybe’, ‘perhaps’ and ‘let me think about it’. An overconfident person might be a risky driver.”

The type of language that Admiral will use is not fixed, however. Over time, it might find that some phrases are more relevant than others. “We are trying to link the data to actual driving outcomes. The algorithm will find links,” added Mr Borenstein. “It is a big data game. The more data we have, the more the things that we look for will change.”

An overconfident person will use phrases such as ‘always’, ‘never’ and exclamation marks … An overconfident person might be a risky driver

Yossi Borenstein, independent adviser

The insurer said that drivers aged 21 or younger are 70 per cent more likely to be involved in an accident that causes an injury. However, younger people also lack the sort of long record that can help the insurers distinguish the safer drivers from the riskier ones. Using social media to assess younger drivers is, said Admiral executive Dan Mines, one way to redress the balance.

Admiral believes it is the first insurer to use Facebook data in this way. But insurers have been using social media for other purposes such as fraud detection for years.

In one recent example, Admiral said it received a claim for an accident involving two people who said they did not know each other. However, after examining Facebook posts, the insurer found out they were boyfriend and girlfriend.

Twitter has been used in a similar way. Aviva recently investigated a whiplash claim and found that the claimant had been tweeting about finishing seventh (out of 2,000 people) in a 10km race while he was supposedly injured.

First appeared at FT

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