Your clients give you their information so that they can purchase insurance products. They don't expect it to move out into the world and compromise their identity or their financial status. How can you live up to clients' requirements and expectations that their data will be secure in your agency's hands? Cybersecurity may not be first on your mind when you're running an insurance agency, but it's key to your success over time.
What Information Do You Collect?
Insurance agencies have long been one of the key collectors of data on people, especially when they're underwriting products such as life insurance. To get the best assessment of the risk involved in selling someone an insurance product, your agency needs to have key data that other companies in the individual's life would never ask for: information like how old their home is or what their driving record looks like.
Medium states that an individual's signature on an insurance document "…legally confirms your informed authorization and consent to allow information collection and data-mining (analytics)." It's likely that you have access to an extensive pool of information on each client that extends far beyond their name and address; however, even if you only have an individual's name, address, and financial information, that's enough for problems to occur if you get hacked.
Expectations for Protecting Client Information
According to Thales Security, insurance companies are particularly vulnerable to data breaches through hacking, since "The value of personal financial and health records is two or three times [the value of financial information alone], because there’s so many more opportunities for fraud." Data is vulnerable through many different platforms and programs, including customer portals, credit cards, internal and external hackers, cloud storage, and employee practices and programs.
Clients expect that their information will be stored safely, in a place where others cannot access it physically or online. This means that you should assess the safety of the programs and cloud-based platforms that you use. If you can, encrypt your clients' information as well. A Verge story on the hacking that occurred at Anthem revealed that the data was not encrypted, though there were more advanced protections on the data to limit access.
What Should You Do To Protect Clients' Information?
What are some simple steps that you can take to protect clients' information? You want to avoid hacking and data breaches alike.
Turn off your computers at night
Enable the ability to remotely wipe computers or handheld personal devices
Back up your data in case you need to wipe your hard drive due to a virus and make sure your backup works
Use passwords and antivirus software
Train your employees to avoid opening suspicious emails
Stay alert for signs of hacking, such as new programs, popups, toolbars, strange emails, or a mouse or computer that doesn't seem to work quite right.
Encrypt sensitive information
Require a password for clients to access key information online
Remove the ability to Reply All as a default, so you don't accidentally send out private information
Create work processes that safeguard your data
Are you looking for more information about ways to protect and grow your insurance agency? Talk with American Agents Alliance. We'll help you find E&O insurance and our many other membership benefits that will help your insurance agency grow.