The Insurance Council of British Columbia (ICBC) has published guidelines to help advisors understand the steps they must take to keep client information private and confidential.
In a notice published on May 13, the ICBC said it continues to uncover instances where insurance advisors have collected, used, or disclosed clients’ personal information contrary to Council rules. In some cases the privacy breach was intentional and for an improper purpose but in others the regulator says that advisors simply failed to appreciate the importance of the confidentiality requirements.
As a result, the ICBC has developed a set of guidelines to help individual licensees, insurance agencies, and adjusting firms understand their responsibilities. The guidelines have been incorporated as an appendix to the Council’s Code of Conduct.
For example, the guidelines state that an advisor should not provide any information to a client’s spouse, relative, or friend, regardless of the reason without having obtained express, written authority from the client. In another example, the guidelines say that disposing of client files by using a shredding service that does not have appropriate confidentiality protocols would be also considered a breach of conduct.
In the case of orphan clients, the Council says that a new advisor should not be appointed, nor should any of the orphan client's personal information be shared with a new advisor, unless the agency has obtained the client's consent beforehand. The confidentiality guidelines stipulate that the client should have the option of declining the agency's services and of choosing their own agent of record.