The Stack Archive

Admiral insurance will use Facebook data to set premium [AMENDED]

Wed 2 Nov 2016

UPDATE: Admiral have now withdrawn this initiative at the last minute.

Admiral Insurance, a major insurance company in the UK, has announced that it will use data garnered from Facebook profiles to help set insurance premiums for first-time drivers.

The announcement of the firstcarquote program at the Admiral website notes the connection between personality type and driver risk, and states that their ‘clever technology’ will allow them to predict who is likely to be a safe driver.

That clever technology means taking a snapshot of an applicant’s Facebook page and using it to determine whether they display the personality traits associated with safe drivers. Should a person show the correct personality indicators, they could receive a discount on insurance premiums of 5-15%.

The company has assured customers with privacy concerns that the firstcarquote program is completely elective, and that it will only be used to lower a customer’s rates, and not to raise them. The program was created to help new drivers establish themselves as low-risk drivers, without the need to build up years of driving records to qualify for safe driving discounts.

Admiral intends to examine Facebook data including likes and posts for safe driver indicators: writing in short, concrete sentences and making concrete plans with friends using specific times and dates, rather than just ‘tonight’, for example, can show that a person is conscientious and well-organized, as can the use of lists. These traits are associated with safer drivers, who are less likely to file a claim with the company.

Frequent use of exclamation marks indicates overconfidence, as does overuse of the words ‘always’ or ‘never’, as opposed to ‘maybe.’ Overconfidence is a personality trait associated with unsafe driving and higher incidence of claims.

Yossi Borenstein, the principal data scientist for the project, noted that the indicators of safe drivers are constantly evolving. “Just like conscientiousness there are other traits which can be indicative of safe driving. Our algorithm for calculating what ‘safe’ looks like is constantly learning, as we match social data to actual claims data.”

The company also states that while they will focus on the most recent six months of Facebook data, they may look back further, if they find that ‘older posts help our algorithm to understand you better.’

The firstcarquote program has already caused a storm of controversy, with some privacy rights activist groups noting that the program violates Facebook’s Platform Policy, Section 3.15, which clearly says,”Don’t use data obtained from Facebook to make decisions about eligibility, including whether to approve or reject an application or how much interest to charge on a loan.”

According to the Admiral website, the program was meant to be up and running today, but the firstcarquote site says that there is a delay, which some have attributed to Facebook blocking the app, either due to customer privacy concerns or because they are reviewing to determine whether the app violates the Platform Policy on data usage.

A spokesman for Admiral said, “The launch of our firstcarquote trial has had to be delayed. We’ve been working closely with Facebook in Europe to get the service ready, and are now addressing a few outstanding issues. We hope that very soon we will be able to offer first-time drivers better deals on their car insurance.”


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