Woman loses insurance due to a Facebook picture of her dog
Nationwide Insurance rejected a North Carolina woman’s request to add personal liability insurance to her policy, and totally cancelled her entire policy, because of a picture of a dog on her Facebook page.
More like anti-social media.
Melina Efthimiadis and her husband already had a homeowner’s policy with Nationwide, and they wanted to add personal umbrella liability to it. They didn’t foresee a problem, least of all one that would arise because of the family pets.
A story on ABC11.com explains that as part of the application process, Melina and her husband had to provide information about their dogs, specifically how many they have and their breeds. Melina complied, and awaited approval.
Instead, she got a rejection letter, and a total policy cancellation.
“We were being cancelled because we had an ineligible dog breed that we failed to disclose.” Nationwide had gone to Melina’s Facebook page and determined that one of her dogs, Zeus, was part Rottweiler, and that the potentially dangerous breed was ineligible for insurance. “They sent us the pictures that they had taken off of my Facebook page of my dog Zeus who is a lab/hound mix.”
Melina explained that they were wrong about the kind of dog Zeus is, and when Nationwide told her she was required to send a letter from a veterinarian confirming Zeus’ breed, she complied quite easily. Melina happens to be a veterinarian herself.
Nationwide rescinded the cancellation, but after the incident, Melina and her husband decided to move on to a different insurance company.
We’ve all used social media to look up old acquaintances, exes, and coworkers. We’re long past the point of pretending the stuff we post on Facebook and Instagram and everywhere else is private, and most of us have adjusted to that fact. The idea that an insurance company is going full Sherlock on consumers isn’t all that surprising. But the fact that they would use the information they found to immediately cancel a policy, without reaching out to the account holder to verify, is alarming.
“Nationwide’s policy is to contact the member and agent to gather more information if there is uncertainty about a dog breed selection on an insurance application. Unfortunately, that policy was not followed in this instance. We have taken steps to rectify the situation to ensure a better experience for future Nationwide applicants,” a rep said.
Clearly, some steps were missed. You’d think the person who found Melina’s pictures might have also discovered that she’s a vet herself, and thus far more qualified to determine her dog breed than they are.
Social media rarely tells the whole story, and even when it does, the key word there is “story.” Without context, what you see can be misleading, and you shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Nationwide found that out the hard way. And we’re finding out just how “visible” our social media accounts are — more and more, every day.