Can the insurance company check my Facebook, Instagram & Twitter accounts?
The simple answer is, YES.
The insurance company or solicitor can and will check a Claimant’s social media posts to check that the claim that is submitted to them in relation to the accident, injuries and losses is consistent with the information and images posted online.
What is “Fundamental Dishonesty”?
It has always been the case that a Claimant must be 100% honest in all aspects of their claim, but in recent years, insurance companies and the courts have rightly taken a much stronger position in relation to Claimants telling lies and exaggerating their claims. The legal principle of “Fundamental Dishonesty” applies to all compensation claims although it has not yet been specifically defined by the courts and so can be applied to a wide range of circumstances.
It is safe to say that if a Claimant tells lies or exaggerates any aspect of the claim in relation to the information provided to the solicitor or insurance company or the medical experts in relation to the claim, the Claimant may face serious consequences.
What are the potential consequences of being found to be fundamentally dishonest?
If a Claimant is found by the court to have been “fundamentally dishonest” in relation to the claim or even any aspect of the claim, the whole claim may be struck out so the Claimant will not receive any compensation, he/she will be ordered to pay the Defendant’s legal costs and he/she will not recover their own legal fees. In certain circumstances, a judge may find that a Claimant has perverted the course of justice or be in contempt of court and the Claimant may then face criminal proceedings. For example, in a recent holiday sickness claim, a couple claimed that their holiday had been ruined and claimed for the cost of the holiday and compensation for their illness, but this was contradicted by their own social media posts. The case went to court and on the basis of the social media posts, the couple were found to be fundamentally dishonest. Their claims were struck out, they were ordered to pay the Defendant’s legal costs and they were later sent to prison.
How can social media posts be used in relation to the claim?
We know from our long experience of acting for Claimants that the vast majority of Claimants are completely honest and present honest evidence and it is only a very, very small number of Claimants that will lie or exaggerate in relation to their claims. However, in this age of social media, the principle of fundamental dishonesty is an issue for all Claimants.
Insurance companies and solicitors will routinely perform searches on social media posts of the Claimant and the Claimant’s family and friends to look for inconsistencies between what a Claimant has said online and what they have said in relation to the claim, either to the insurance company or solicitor or to the medical expert or accident investigator. The insurance company and solicitor may also review a Claimant’s medical records and compare what has been said to the GP or hospital staff against the online posts. The insurance company and solicitor will use any inconsistencies they find to support the case that the Claimant has been fundamentally dishonest.
For example, a Claimant simply cannot claim that the injuries caused by the accident or incident have affected every aspect of his or her life, but then post on social media that at the same time they were enjoying a big night out or they had successfully completed a Park Run or gone on holiday and had a wonderful time. There may be innocent explanations for the social media posts, but these may not be accepted by the Defendant’s insurance company or solicitor or, crucially, by the court.
What should Claimants do in regards to social media?
Our advice to every Claimant is simple and straightforward. If a Claimant is 100% honest in every aspect of the claim and in everything that is submitted in support of the claim, there will be nothing to worry about. The Defendant’s insurer or solicitor may make their online checks, but there will be nothing to find and the claim should proceed without any issues.
However, a Claimant should be aware that these online checks will be made and therefore think twice about what is posted online, either by you or your family and friends and how these posts may appear to the insurance company or solicitor.
We would recommend that you do not discuss the case with anyone online or post photographs relating to the accident or your injuries and you could also alter your privacy settings.
If you would like to discuss your accident case with one of our expert personal injury lawyers, please call or e-mail us.