Is theft insured if you post your vacation on Insta?

Caution: a vacation photo posted on the Internet can arouse the interest of thieves in your apartment that is currently empty.

Caution: a vacation photo posted on the Internet can arouse the interest of thieves in your apartment that is currently empty.

Pexels/Mikhail Nilov

published

If you post vacation photos on social media, crooks have an easy time. But can insurance companies refuse compensation in this case? We ask around.

Vacations are there to unwind, enjoy life and share a photo or two on social media. But have you ever thought about the fact that maybe that’s not so smart?

After all, anyone who happily posts impressions directly from a hotel pool in the Maldives is signaling to thieves that their house or apartment is currently empty. So far so disturbing. But it is even worse if, in case of theft, the insurance company refuses to pay compensation because of your vacation photos on social media.

An article in the English newspaper “Walesonline” opened the discussion on the subject. Because there Holly Bennet, financial expert at the price comparison service Nerdwallet, warns against posting vacation photos on Instagram and co. “Anyone who makes a damage claim to their insurance company after a theft should expect their social media profiles to be scrutinized. And depending on the case, that’s not necessarily an advantage.”

After a break-in, your social media profiles may come under scrutiny.

Holly Bennet, financial expert at price comparison service Nerdwallet

The Nerdwallet website claims that an insurance company cannot refuse to compensate for a theft just because you uploaded a vacation photo to social media. However, reasonable precautions should be taken during absences to protect your home. This principle is also known as the duty of care and is clearly defined in the general conditions of the insurance. In short, depending on the situation, the insurance company could consider posting vacation photos outside of your home a breach of the duty of care and therefore refuse to pay full compensation.

This is the situation in Switzerland

But is such a practice also possible in Switzerland, especially in the context of household goods insurance? We investigated this question and asked four insurance companies about the procedure. Mobiliar’s response states that it “would not cut insurance benefits solely because of a social media post.” The same applies to Basler Versicherung: “The duty of care does not extend to the activities of our policyholders on social media.”

Helvetia recalls a principle: the insured “must take the necessary measures according to the circumstances to protect himself from possible risks”. Using the example of our requested case, the benefits would not be reduced. However, she goes on to say, “A change in practice is not immediately planned. But of course we are following developments with interest.”

Generali declines “to comment specifically on this hypothetical question. Because we can only examine the question of a possible reduction of benefits or even a denial of benefits due to the circumstances of the specific case when reporting the damage that has occurred”. That is, the insurer does not rule out the possibility that publishing photos in the social networks constitutes a breach of the duty of care.

Is this practice against the law?

For the Genevan insurance broker and lawyer Rémy Baddour, a procedure like the one described in the British article would not be legally defensible in Switzerland. “The only question that arises is whether the publication of vacation photos could constitute a serious fault on the part of the insured in the sense of article 14 (2) of the Federal Insurance Contract Law, which grants the insurer the right to reduce its Benefits.”

The expert also says: “This position does not seem to me justifiable and remains theoretical, since most insurers refrain from invoking gross negligence in their general insurance conditions.” According to Rémy Baddour, social media channels must be explicitly mentioned in the insurance conditions. Until then, tourists can still post selfies on the beach and hope thieves don’t see them.

How do you protect yourself from theft when you go on vacation?

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