Car insurer proposes to check Facebook before setting premiums

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Car insurer Admiral has announced a new scheme to lower premiums, and it involves analyzing drivers' social media presence.

The initiative is called Firstcarquote and is aimed at first-time drivers, although it is open to anyone. If drivers choose to use the optional service, Admiral will use an algorithm to examine their posts and likes, in search of personality traits that are linked to safe driving.

Those who are conscientious and well-organised, using lists and making set arrangements on Facebook will score highly.

And those with high scores will see a decrease in their premiums of up to 15 per cent – as much as £350, the company claims. However, those who are seen as overconfident, with frequent use of exclamation marks and the words 'always' or 'never' will not see their premium rise as a result.

On its website, Admiral said: "New drivers are often quoted much higher insurance premiums as they have little driving history, zero no-claims bonus and are viewed as 'high risk'.

"But we want to help make sure safe drivers aren't penalised and get the best price possible. To do this, we'll look at your Facebook profile to help us get a better understanding of the type of driver you are.

"There's a proven link between personality and how people drive, and our clever technology allows us to predict who is likely to be a safe driver."

However, concerns have been raised over data protection and the implications of young drivers sharing such personal details with their insurer.

In response, Admiral took to Twitter to write: "In response to today's coverage, we'd like to assure customers Admiral doesn't use social media data to set prices for its policyholders. We haven't and don't access Admiral policyholders' Facebook data. We've launched a new brand called firstcarquote.com for new drivers. They can get a quicker & cheaper quote via Facebook."

When contacted, a spokesperson for Facebook commented: "Protecting the privacy of the people on Facebook is of utmost importance to us. We have clear guidelines that prevent information being obtained from Facebook from being used to make decisions about eligibility.

"We have made sure anyone using this app is protected by our guidelines and that no Facebook user data is used to assess their eligibility. Facebook accounts will only be used for login and verification purposes.

They added: "Our understanding is that Admiral will then ask users who sign up to answer questions which will be used to assess their eligibility."