Canadian Underwriter

B.C. broker fined $1,000 for accidentally disposing of client documents in condo recycling bin

January 7, 2011   by Canadian Underwriter

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A B.C. broker has been fined $1,000 by the Insurance Council of B.C. for accidentally pitching his clients’ insurance records into the recycling bin of his residential condo unit instead of taking them back to his office to be shredded, as he had intended.
A municipal recycling depot contacted the Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC) in December 2009, advising that they had found a garbage bag filled with ICBC documents at a residential condominium complex in Richmond, B.C., where the broker lived.
Approximately 409 pages were found with information related to 196 ICBC customers. The documents included vehicle registrations, copies of customers’ ID, credit card slips and banking information.
ICBC and the broker contacted the people whose privacy had been breached. The Council noted that there have not been any reported privacy or identity issues arising from the breach.
The records were traced back to the sale of the broker’s insurance agency that had been sold in December 2008. At the time the agency was sold, the broker cleared his workspace, taking with him some of his clients’ insurance records back to his apartment.
One month later, the broker cleaned his apartment and took out four garbage bags. Two had clothes he planned to drop off at his mother’s. One contained personal documents he intended to recycle, and the fourth one contained his clients’ records, which he intended to take to his office and shred.
The broker mistakenly placed the bag of client documents in recycling. When he got to work and realized his mistake, he said he called the company and was told there was nothing that could be done.
“The licensee knew of the importance of disposing insurance records properly,” the council wrote in its decision, which found the broker had breached Council Rule 7(8). “He had been trained to shred documents, avoid printing duplicate copies of transactions unnecessarily, and had enough experience in the business to appreciate the significance or protecting the privacy of his clients.
“Council believed he was careless in placing copies of client documents from his office in an unmarked garbage bag and into his car with other unmarked garbage bags.”