How Your Online Behavior Impacts Your Car Insurance Rates


WRITTEN BY: Julia Matseikovich

UPDATED: DECEMBER 06, 2022 | 3 MIN READ

With the increase in social media and technology use also comes an increase in easily distracted drivers. Whether it’s the sound of text notifications, social media likes, or a plethora of musical options on your favorite app, these all play a role in our everyday life, even while you may be driving.

When you’re distracted while driving, the risk of an accident increases exponentially. And in a world filled with so much technology, it only makes sense that your car insurance company may use your online behavior as a gauge when deciding what your car insurance premiums may be. Below we’ll explore how your online behavior could impact what you pay for car insurance. 

How much do most pay for auto insurance?

On average, most American adults pay at least $1,300 per year for auto insurance for one vehicle. But, a portion of the population pays up to 30 times that average. So why is it that some people pay significantly more? While many factors weigh into insurance rates, one of those factors may be related to your internet behavior and the risk of driving while distracted. 

Driving distracted and its affect on your insurance costs

One of the biggest driving distractions among Americans while driving these days is texting. Texting has become a prevalent form of communication among teens and adults alike. Many states have outright banned handheld phones while driving because it’s become so dangerous, with an uptick in accidents because of cell phone usage.

If you’re caught texting while driving by law enforcement and receive a ticket, your auto insurance rates will likely rise. Similarly, if you’re involved in an automobile accident because of cell phone usage while driving, you’ll also most likely see rate increases with your insurance. This is because your car insurance company will determine that distracted driving equates to higher-risk behavior, and you may be at risk of causing another accident down the line, which will cost the insurance company more. 

Factors that contribute to what you pay for insurance

While there are many contributing factors that insurance companies use to assess your insurance application, the following are some of the most popular:

  • Credit score
  • Age
  • Driving record
  • Gender
  • Where you reside
  • Claims history
  • Marital status

And believe it or not, social media is also beginning to become a factor in determining coverage rates. What exactly does that mean for you and your social media use? Let’s take a deeper look. 

Can insurance companies legally assess social media for insurance rates?

So, is it legal for insurance companies to use your social media pages as a factor when determining insurance coverage? You may be shocked that they are legally within their means to do this, especially when your insurance company is looking into an insurance claim.

Each social media website you sign up for has a terms and conditions page to which you’ll click agree. This means that you agree that everything you post on your social media can be used to investigate you if necessary. Insurance investigators or claims adjusters can’t communicate with you via social media but are more than within their right to investigate when an insurance claim is filed.

Like sharing online? See why it could affect your rates

Believe it or not, there’s a significant number of companies that can track you and your behavior online. And it’s not any different in the world of automobile insurance. Underwriters often look at insurance applicants’ social media profiles when reviewing an insurance application. 

Social media can give these underwriters a better understanding of the lifestyle you lead, as well as habits you may have. Most times, you won’t be denied auto insurance because of your social media, but don’t think your posts won’t affect your insurance rates. If you lead a high-risk lifestyle, such as drag racing or skydiving, it could affect your premiums and any claims that may arise down the line. 

In most cases, social media won’t affect your insurance, especially if you have a smaller car insurance policy. But, if you carry a large and expensive policy, underwriters may start to look into those profiles. Single individuals may pay more in premiums than married couples. So, an insurance carrier may check social media to confirm your marital status to ensure you’re paying what you should. 

Insurance companies will also sometimes look at social media to determine the types of hobbies that you’re into. For example, suppose you post regular images of yourself while scuba diving or parasailing. In that case, your insurance company may decide that you like to take risks, as your hobbies could be potentially dangerous and indicate certain driving behaviors. Underwriters may view this as a potential to be involved in a severe car accident, and you’ll likely pay much higher rates. 

Work-life and the affect on your car insurance

Insurance companies will also sometimes check social media to view and compare your source of employment and how it could affect your insurance. Suppose you claim on your insurance application that you’re self-employed and work from home, but your underwriter determines you’re a ride-share or delivery person. In that case, you’ll probably have higher premiums. 

Gig workers must always indicate their means of employment honestly. This is because gigs such as delivery driving may need to fall under commercial car insurance rather than private auto insurance policies. Food delivery is technically a business use of your vehicle. It tends to put you at higher risk of an accident because of the time and mileage that goes into delivery work. 

Can sharing pictures online impact my car insurance?

Claim denial can stem from photos you may share online. Why? Often, policyholders may “spruce” up their vehicle with unique modifications, such as window tinting or lifting of certain types of cars, and may not always contact their insurance company when doing so. 

Suppose your insurance company decides to check social media and finds images uploaded of your vehicle modified. In that case, this could lead to claim denials if your car is involved in an accident, theft, fire, or flood. The best practice is always to communicate with your insurance carrier so that you don’t find yourself in a bind if it comes time to file an insurance claim.

FAQs

How does your online behavior affect your insurance rates?

Insurance companies get a good glimpse into your lifestyle with social media. They can use your profiles to assess whether you lead a high-risk lifestyle and whether you have habits that could make you a liability. Rates may be higher, and claims may be denied depending on your lifestyle. 

What factors affect what you pay for insurance?

Your demographics can significantly affect your car insurance rates. Age, gender, residence, claims history, traffic violations, marital status, and credit history are the most common factors determining deductibles, coverage, and policy limits.

How do car insurance companies know if drivers use their phones for GPS or social media?

Your auto insurance company often uses insurance trackers (usage-based insurance) to check your driving habits. These trackers can track your speed, mileage, and even hard braking while driving.

Find affordable car insurance today

If you want to buy new car insurance, you’ll want to know the best carriers available for coverage in your area. You can use our quote form or call our team of highly qualified insurance agents today. Quotes can be done in just minutes, so you can start saving money today!