Insurance firms spying on customers to hike bills for those they think can afford more

INSURANCE firms are spying on personal data to hike up bills if they think customers can afford to pay more.

Firms have traditionally set premiums according to age and postcode.

Rex Features

Money mail discovered insurance firms including PWC are spying on personal data to hike up bills[/caption]

But a probe found they can now tailor rates after studying “Big Data” such as our shopping habits, social media feeds, loyalty cards, and phone and government records.

The Financial Conduct Authority is said to be investigating the claims.

Its chief executive Andrew Bailey warned this month that access to data “could lead to unfair outcomes, particularly if the person is vulnerable”.

Money Mail discovered insurers could assess how likely someone was to switch to another provider.

Times Newspapers Ltd

Firms are said to be studying our shopping habits and social media feeds[/caption]

And they might hit those unlikely to shop around, such as the elderly, with higher renewal fees.

Marc Gander, of The Consumer Action Group, said: “This is a shocking way to treat people.

“It is seeing customers as a statistic to exploit, and  is an abuse of their loyalty.”

The Association of British Insurers said: “Insurers continually review  factors to assess risk, so that they can set premiums accurately.

“Each will decide on the information  they consider relevant.”

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