October 6, 2009 by Canadian Underwriter
The insurance industry yielded 17% of the Personal Information and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)-related complaints lodged in 2008.
Last year there were 442 new complaints in total, marking an increase from 2007’s 350 complaints. Financial institutions as a whole took the lion’s share of complaints (between 22% and 30%) and the insurance industry took second place, with 71 complaints, said the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Annual Report to Parliament 2008.
Most of those 71 complaints related either to difficulties that complainants had in gaining access to their personal information in the industry’s possession, or issues related to the use and disclosure of the information.
“The reason for this spike is not yet apparent, and we do not know whether it will continue in the future,” the report said. “We have noticed, however, that complainants are using PIPEDA in claims disputes with their insurance providers, which is a legitimate and parallel use of the law.”
Some complaints have also centred on techniques that insurance adjusters use to evaluate or substantiate claims, it continued.
One of those techniques is covert video surveillance, the report said.
In response to the mounting complaints of this nature, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada launched a consultation process in the fall of 2008 and published guidelines in 2009.