Category Archives: Social Media

Social Media Brings Growing Opportunities and Liability

Are you a fan of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or LinkedIn? If you are one of the millions who interact on these social networks every day, do you ever consider the risks as you tweet, message, share and “like†?

A new white paper from the I.I.I. observes that like any other new technology, social media brings enormous opportunities and benefits.

Yet as businesses and individuals navigate this shifting online risk landscape, they face a range of evolving social media related liabilities including privacy, security, intellectual property and employment practices liability.

The proliferation of social media use comes amid growing concerns over cyber security. Businesses that store confidential customer and client information online are exposed to increasing liabilities and costs as a result of cyber attacks and data breaches.

A massive data breach at Sony Corp’s online game networks in April 2011 resulted in the theft of more than 100 million online accounts, for example. Just months later in October 2011 Sony’s Playstation Network and other online entertainment services were hit in a second attack that compromised 93,000 user accounts.

Coming in the wake of the 2010 Wikileaks breaches of classified data, these high profile data breach incidents have served to increase both public and government scrutiny of cyber security practices.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently issued guidance urging publicly traded companies to disclose significant instances of cyber risks and events. Description of relevant insurance coverage was included in the SEC’s list of appropriate disclosures.

While traditional insurance policies typically have not handled these emerging risks, in recent years limited coverage under traditional policies has become available.

But as reliance on traditional policies is not enough, specialist social media and cyber insurance policies have been developed by insurers to help businesses and individuals protect themselves from an ever-evolving range of risks.

To learn more about this emerging risk area, check out the I.I.I. white paper “Social Media, Liability and Insurance.†

Social Media Usage Slows Among Fortune 500

Insurance companies in the Fortune 500 only slightly increased their use of Twitter in 2011, according to an annual study from the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

The number of insurance companies in the F500 with active Twitter accounts moved to 21 in 2011 from 20 in 2010, the study found.

Insurance companies continue to rank first among industry sectors with a Facebook account, though the number with corporate Facebook pages dropped to 27 in 2011 from 28 in 2010.

Meanwhile, the number of insurers in the F500 blogging rose to 4 in 2011, up from 3 in 2010.

Overall, the study revealed that 23 percent (114) of the 2011 F500 have corporate public-facing blogs, the same level as in 2010, while 62 percent use Twitter, compared to 60 percent in 2010, and some 58 percent are now on Facebook, an increase of just 2 percent on 2010.

The study notes that the adoption of blogs, Twitter and Facebook in the 2011 F500 appears to have leveled off with no significant change in the past year:

These results may signal a leveling off and possibly retrenchment when it comes to the adoption of social media among the 2011 F500. There is also evidence of change in the adoption of these tools by industry and a clear sign from some companies that these are not part of their communications strategy.

Given that the F500 are the titans of American business, we may be seeing the slowdown in business adoption of social media. At the very least, this group appears to have slowed or stopped its adoption of the three most prominent tools – Blogging, Facebook and Twitter.”

Top 50 Blogs Nomination

Blogging about insurance, or on any subject come to that, takes time and commitment from both the writer and the reader.

So we’re honored to announce that Terms + Conditions has received a nomination to be considered one of the LexisNexis Insurance Law Community’s Top 50 Insurance Blogs for 2011.

Each year, LexisNexis honors a select group of blogs that set the online standard for a given industry. The Top Blogs campaign on the LexisNexis Insurance Law Community starts with a comment period that runs through September 30.

An initial list of nominees for this year’s Top 50 includes some of our favorites such as the excellent Tim Dodge’s Ask Tim, Guy Carpenter’s GCCapitalIdeas.com, InsureReinsure published by Edwards, Angell, Palmer & Dodge, the Lloyd’s blog, Risk Management Monitor published by RIMS, and The D&O Diary published by Kevin LaCroix.

To talk up or nominate your favorite insurance blog, just register and log in as a community member at this link.

Disasterproofing Social Media

About a year ago, we posted on the increasing use of social media in disasters.

A survey from the American Red Cross had shown that web users increasingly rely on social media to seek help in a disaster, and expect first responders to be listening.

Fast forward to today and according to L.A. NOW, a blog at the Los Angeles Times, a summer marked by social media-fueled riots in England and flash-mob violence in a number of U.S. cities, including Philadelphia and Cleveland, has prompted a debate about a social media crackdown.

L.A. NOW reports that rioters in and around London used BlackBerry messages to plan attacks, leading British Prime Minister David Cameron to suggest shutting down access to social media for anyone suspected of using it for criminal activity.

And after a large flash mob disrupted a Fourth of July fireworks display with violence here in the U.S., the Cleveland City Council passed an ordinance that would have made it illegal to use social media to organize a violent and disorderly flash mob. The mayor eventually vetoed the measure, citing First Amendment concerns.

Also, just last week officials at the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) shut down its cell phone service to disrupt a protest over the shooting of a homeless man.

This raises an important question of whether officials legally can crack down on social media.

According to L.A. NOW:

Legal experts say police face a delicate balance when cracking down on social media — and prosecutors would have to meet a high bar to show that irresponsible, even reckless tweeting amounts to a crime.†

Across the Pond, an article in the London Guardian newspaper makes the point that police thwarted planned attacks on the Olympics site and stores in Oxford Circus, after gleaning intelligence from encrypted social messaging sites such as BlackBerry Messenger and also Twitter.

The Guardian also says police had considered switching off certain social messaging sites, but discovered they did not have the legal powers to do so.

In the words of acting Metropolitan police commissioner, Tim Godwin, cited by The Guardian:

We did consider seeking the legal authority to switch it off. The legality is questionable, very questionable.†

What do you think?

Disaster Planning Is Not Just For Humans

Recent events such as the tornadoes in the U.S. and the Japan earthquake and tsunami remind us that our four-legged friends are just as vulnerable as we are when a disaster strikes.

Starting with Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the web has been used to powerful effect to locate not just people, but lost pets and reunite them with their families.

A quick search of Facebook reveals pages created earlier this year for animals lost and found from the April tornadoes in Alabama and the May tornado in Joplin, Missouri as well as the Japan earthquake and tsunami in March.

While these are valuable tools for pet owners, it’s always prudent to plan ahead before a disaster strikes.

This is why the I.I.I. suggests that any disaster plan includes provisions for your pets.

Things to think about include: mapping out a route and knowing where you might be able to shelter your pet in an emergency as not all hotels and shelters are pet-friendly.

Your vet, or the humane society or the local emergency management agency are good places to get information on evacuation plans that include pets.

A grab-and-go disaster kit for your pets is also a must and should include things like food and water, medication and your pet’s vaccination records.

The I.I.I. message is simple: don’t forget your four-legged friends in your disaster-planning.

For more information on disaster planning with pets check out the I.I.I. web video.

Ready For Zombies, Hurricanes, Floods?

Preparing for hurricane season? Or for an invasion of zombies? Either way, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has you covered.

In a blog post earlier this week, the CDC did what many emergency preparedness messages fail to do  Ã¢â‚¬“ it got our attention:

There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.”

The CDC went on to advise  us to have an emergency kit on hand at home:

This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored).”

Once you’ve made your emergency kit, the CDC  wisely suggests you  sit down with your family and come up with an emergency plan. This includes where you would go and who you would call if zombies started appearing outside your door step. You can also implement this plan if there is a flood, earthquake, or other emergency.

While  the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)  may not have tips for managing zombie risk,  we do  recommend you have an up-to-date home inventory to be prepared for any disaster. To help you create this inventory, check out our free online home inventory tool Know Your Stuff.

If you're    ready for a zombie apocalypse, then you're ready for any emergency.    emergency.cdc.gov

Spring Break

A change is as good as a rest, or so the saying goes. After four years blogging on a near-daily basis I’ll be taking a short break.

To my loyal readers, the good news is that while I’m out Terms + Conditions blog will continue under the able penmanship of Jim Lynch.

Jim is an actuary AND a writer, so follow what he has to say closely and know that he has the numbers to back up his words.

We have a lot to look forward to when I return to the blog in April. By then the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season will be just two months away, and by all accounts it’s shaping up to be another busy one.

For now, take a minute to  watch  a recap of  the 2010 hurricane season in this YouTube video, courtesy of Discovery. See you in a few weeks!

“Friendly Fraud” On the Rise

Identity fraud incidents declined significantly in the United States in 2010, but now is not the time to let your guard down.

So-called “friendly fraud” – fraud perpetrated by people known to the victim, such as a relative or roommate – grew seven percent last year, according to Javelin Research & Strategy’s recently released 2011 Identity Fraud Survey Report.

People in the 25-34 age group are most likely to be victims of friendly fraud, mostly by having their Social Security number (SSN) stolen (41 percent).

The increase in friendly fraud is also contributing to a significant rise in consumer out-of-pocket costs.

While overall fraud declined in 2010, the mean consumer out-of-pocket cost due to identity fraud increased 63 percent from $387 in 2009 to $631 per incident in 2010, Javelin said.

The findings give us pause for thought.

Javelin’s advice? Keep personal data private and don’t overshare on social networks.

In 2010, 14 percent of all identity fraud crimes were committed by someone previously known to the victim when the method was known.

People also like to connect with friends and acquaintances on social networks, but sometimes they share too much information.

Javelin research found that 36 percent of people aged 65+ do not use the privacy settings on their network potentially exposing crucial information to fraudsters. (The good news is that 89 percent of 25-34 year olds were actively using the privacy settings on social network sites.)

As for overall fraud trends, in 2010 the number of identity fraud victims declined by 28 percent to 8.1 million adults in the U.S., three million fewer victims than the prior year. Total annual fraud dropped to $37 billion from $56 billion – the smallest amount in the eight years of the study.

Stepped-up prevention efforts by businesses, increased security measures and economic conditions contributed to the year-over-year decline, Javelin said.

Check out I.I.I. info on ID theft.

FEMA Launches Blog

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has launched a blog.

In its first post, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate says the blog is another interactive tool for FEMA to use to communicate.

FEMA is already on Facebook and Twitter.

According to Fugate:

You’ll eventually hear from team members from across our agency, from our regional offices to our field offices, supporting local disaster recovery efforts. We will provide information before, during and after disaster strikes and we will highlight best practices, innovative ideas, and insights that are being used across emergency management and across the country.†

Many government agencies have blogs. The FEMA blog adds to a growing list and is likely to become a must-read when it comes to disasters and related info.

Insurance Events Among Top Twitter Trends Of 2010

The Gulf oil spill and the Haiti earthquake are among the top overall Twitter trends of 2010, according to analysis from the social network.

Social media blog Mashable reports that Twitter analyzed some 25 billion tweets sent in 2010 to come up with the top 10 list.

Twitter also analyzed the top 10 trending topics in eight categories: news events, people, movies, television, technology, World Cup, sports and hashtags.

Natural and man-made catastrophes, many of which impact insurers, feature even more prominently in the news events category.

The top three news events are the Gulf oil spill, the Haiti earthquake and the Pakistan floods. Hurricane Earl also ranked eighth on the list.

Twitter’s findings also indicate the increasing use of social media in disasters.

Terms + Conditions tweeted on all of the above catastrophes, as did other I.I.I. Twitter feeds (@iiiorg @Bob_Hartwig @JeanneSalvatore @LWorters @III_Research @InsuringFLA).

Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on global catastrophes.