Welsh car insurance firm Admiral recently declared that it had launched a new initiative that would see potential policyholders’ Facebook accounts analysed before they are offered a quote, but it seems that the social media site has other ideas.
The scheme, which is called ‘firstcarquote’, would see the insurer checking social media accounts of would-be customers to analyse their personality traits. It is an optional initiative and only applies to first-time drivers looking for their first policies.
Under the initiative, Admiral would obtain the permission of the car owner before it delves into each profile, before searching through hordes of selfies and status updates and deciding on a price to offer the potential policyholder.
The aim of the initiative is to search for personality traits that the company believes are linked to safe driving. Those that are deemed to fit this criterion could be offered a discount on their insurance of up to 15%, which could amount to around £350 per year for some drivers.
It has been reported that the insurer is looking for people who use detail in their posts, such as arranging meets at a set time and location instead of using vague terms like ‘tonight’. It also links safe driving to those who use shorter sentences and lists, whereas language related to overconfidence, such as overuse of exclamation marks and frequent use of terms such as “always” and “never” would go against the driver in question.
Admiral has stated that it is launching this initiative to help young, safe drivers to identify themselves as, normally they would have to wait until they build up a no claims record before having access to bonuses, discounts and lower prices. It also highlights that there is a proven link between a person’s driving ability and their personality, so access to a social media account would give the company a better understanding of the type of driver the applicant is, then provide them with a more accurate quote.
The initial reaction to the initiative, however, was rather negative. Some observers stated that this was an invasion of privacy and questioned whether driving and social media posts were really correlated at all.
Admiral’s principal data scientist on the initiative, Yossi Borenstein, said that the company would not have access to the activity of the user and that once the information it needs to generate the quote is obtained, Admiral will no longer need or have access to the account.
Despite this explanation, a matter of hours after the initiative was announced, Facebook put an end to the Admiral’s ideas, stating that it would block the plans.
The social media giant has explained that it would allow registered users to access the Admiral app from their Facebook accounts, and again for verification purposes, but it would not allow Admiral to view the posts and other personal information of that user in order to work out whether or not they are deserving of a discount.
As a result of Facebook’s decision to not support the initiative, Admiral has since pulled the plug on the plans and it looks like firstcarquote has well and truly stalled.