A blessing and a curse is how one industry expert described social media in relation to claims handling, while another said it offered a way for insurers and claims departments to voice accomplishments.

Social media has benefits for the industry, according to Steve Robson, former head of claims at Brit Insurance. He explained that it aids in demonstrating the good the industry does. Ed Quinn Jr., president and CEO of Rockville Risk Management Associates, said that social media can have a negative impact after an event that leads to a claim.

Both experts took time to speak with Claims Journal, Carrier Management‘s sister publication, during the International Association of Claim Professionals’ annual conference held in Sonoma, Calif.

“Social media is very much a vital part of people understanding through word of mouth what good looks like and what they should expect,” Robson said.
His view is supported by Accenture’s 2014 white paper on the subject, “The Digital Insurer: Unleashing the Potential of Social Media in Insurance.”

The paper noted that “carriers have a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on the word of mouth that is increasingly occurring within social media.”

Accenture conducted a global survey in 2013 that found those consumers aged 18-34 pay particular attention to comments and recommendations made on social media sites.

Where social media can benefit insurers and claims, as a result of positive approval of a transaction or experience, it can also hinder in the settlement of claims and lawsuits.

“Many of these situations do result in some kind of civil claim, and what happens is there is a narrative that is created on social media…You get a snippet or a small segment of a videotape. You don’t see what happened before, and you don’t know what happened after. All you see is what’s on that videotape,” explained Quinn.

According to Quinn, some horrific situations are driven by social media possibly as an agenda to drive up the costs and potential settlement of a claim.

As a result, social media can be a blessing and a curse to claims, he said.