Security online

Is the COVID-19 Pandemic changing how we treat our personal information?

I live in British Columbia Canada.  Like the rest of the world, we are locked down due to COVID-19.
This week I tried to renew my auto insurance.  While the insurance is provided by the government, it is sold by independent brokers across the province. 

As I am trying to sort out how to renew my auto insurance this year I am quite appalled by what I am seeing.  Many of the insurance brokers are directing people to initiate the renewal process by filling out a form on the website.  One of the requirements is to agree to have personal information sent by email.  This would include Drivers License, Address, type of vehicle and possibly date of birth and banking information.

I called one of the companies but was unable to connect with an actual broker.  The person that I spoke to indicated that it was OK for them to send information by email because we consent.  No — email does not become secure because we have ‘consented’ to receive sensitive information via email. 

Please DO NOT consent to have your personal information sent via email.  Yes, it is very convenient to use email, but regular email is not secure.  It’s like sending an electronic post card.  Would you put this type of information on a post card and send it? No of course not. 

As a CPA and tax accountant, I also have access to the private information for my clients.  I take the responsibility very serious and I ferociously guard the privacy of my clients.  From time to time I get the occasional complaint for a client but overall, they know I am thinking of them.  I use secure methods of electronic communication to protect them and their personal information.

There are many tools available to use – even some Canadian products easy to implement and relatively inexpensive.  Two come to mind immediately: Ecourier.ca based right here in BC and Sync.Com (Canadian company similar to drop box).  No reason at ALL to not implement this for insurance customers.  Many reasons to implement a security policy for electronic communications.

I would be devastated to find out that my actions would be responsible for any violation of my client’s personal information.  Why isn’t this happening with the insurance industry in British Columbia?  Ironic that insurance is supposed to protect us.

Taking care of our health takes effort.  It is effort to wash our hands and wear a mask but we do it because we know it protects us and others. Taking care of your personal information also takes effort.  Both are very important and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Is the COVID-19 Pandemic changing how we treat our personal information?

I would love to hear your thoughts.  It would also give me great comfort to hear from an insurance company in British Columbia who has implemented a secure method for online communications.