Insurance and social media are becoming an increasingly common mix. Agents, insurance companies, and others in the industry are using social media sites to communicate with their customers and educate potential clients. But with the growing prevalence of social media in insurance, comes the added risk of ethical concerns for agents and brokers.
Learn more about social media ethics for insurance agents and brokers — and tips on how to reduce your risk of an ethical misstep.
Social Media Ethics for Insurance Agents
Social media is a popular way to keep in touch with others. But when agents and brokers use it for their insurance businesses, staying ethical is a top priority.
Keep your social media messaging clear.
If you post a message on social media, make sure it is factual. Don’t post potentially misleading messages or posts that promise coverage, for example. It pays to take your time when drafting your social media messages to ensure the integrity of your message. While social media is a more informal way to communicate, you must still be accurate in your messaging.
Review carrier policies.
If you work with any of the large P&C insurers, they likely have a social media policy governing their employees. While you may not be bound by this policy, reading it will help you better understand the issues and perspectives of the major carriers.
Read your appointment documents.
Re-read carrier appointment information to see how you are limited by the insurers you work with when posting to social media. Established policies and guidelines can give you both a framework and ethical boundaries for your social media use.
Use social media to educate.
Content marketing, or providing educational content to your customers, is a great way to use social media. Rather than trying to make a sale on your socials, consider using your platform to educate consumers — with a call to action back to your website or to contact you directly. After someone has read your content and connected with you, you can begin the sales process. You may be more likely to exaggerate the benefits or be less than clear about the drawbacks of a particular product if your posts are more product-specific than educational.
Think of your social media posts like you would print media.
If you wouldn’t print a claim, don’t post it on social media, either. Consider anything you post online to be the same as a traditionally printed advertisement. Follow the same rules and guidelines to stay in compliance and keep your posts ethical.
Consider reviewing your social media posts in advance.
You might even consider running your ideas for social media posts past your attorney or another trusted mentor. Having an outside point of view can be invaluable.
Don’t forget your website.
Social media use also includes your website. It is a best practice to review the content you have posted. Check for any untrue or misleading information. Read over your posts with an eye for potential misunderstandings — and think about how a consumer or layperson might interpret your words. It is up to you to be clear and concise to avoid any harm to your customer from a misunderstanding.
Proactive Steps to Avoid Social Media Ethical Missteps
Agents and brokers can take proactive steps to reduce the likelihood of taking an ethical misstep on social media.
1.) Take regular CE classes.
Continuing education courses provide CE credit toward maintaining your license, but they also give valuable information. The course creators are always updating their content so you will have the most current guidance about social media available to you. Many agents have to take a certain number of ethics hours toward CE requirements, so look for a course about social media ethics for your next round.
2.) Join a professional designation program.
Agents and brokers can continue their education by earning professional insurance and risk management designations. Look at designations like the CPCU, Accredited Advisor in Insurance (AAI), or Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC). These professional designation programs also have a code of ethics. Designation holders must agree to act within these ethical guidelines. Joining one of these groups and agreeing to abide by their ethical standards could help you avoid social media ethical issues.
3.) Consider hiring a third party to help with your social media campaign.
When you hire an agency or an outside third party to help you with your social media campaigns, you are getting more than creative direction. Hiring an agency helps you spread the liability of a social media post gone wrong. Marketing agencies have insurance coverage to help cover their liability, and when you hire them for your social media campaigns you share the risk.
4.) Review your insurance coverage.
Check out your business insurance policies or talk with your agent to learn about your coverage for social media or advertising issues. You may want the help of your insurance policy if you post a misleading statement that harms someone. Get an E&O quote from the American Agents Alliance if it has been a while since you shopped around.
Insurance and social media will continue to be an important partnership for agents and brokers. But staying ethical when posting, advertising, and responding to consumers is a top priority.