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Jul 11, 2013

Can my insurance company use information and pictures from my Facebook page against me?

If your Facebook account is open to the public, and therefore accessible to anyone, then yes, your insurance company can use whatever information they find on your Facebook account to assist in their assessment of your claim. If your Facebook account is private, this makes it harder for your insurance company to get access to its contents, but it is not impossible.

For example, in the case of Rakosi v. State Farm, the claimant claimed that she is unable to return to work or engage in certain self-care activities due to her accident related injuries. The insurance company obtained various photos from the claimant's public profile on Facebook and another social networking site called Hi5. These photos showed the claimant socializing and participating in physically demanding activities, including "zip-lining". Based on these photos, the insurance company then sought production of the claimant's private or non-public photos from Facebook. This request was later granted by the arbitrator.

The arbitrator held that the test for production (at the Financial Services Commission of Ontario) remains to be a "semblence of relevance." Meaning, as long as there is some sort of rational connection between the production that is being sought - in this case, the photos - and the issues in dispute, then the test has been met and the production must be made.

The bottom line, there is no guarantee that the content of your Facebook account, or any other social networking site, is out of the reach of the insurance company. If you claim that you cannot do certain activities, but your Facebook contents show otherwise, this may seriously jeopardize your claim. When in doubt, err on the side of caution, and speak with your legal representative.

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