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HR PROFESSIONALS WARNED OF INSURANCE DATA SECURITY RISKS

HR PROFESSIONALS WARNED OF INSURANCE DATA SECURITY RISKS

HR professionals should take steps to ensure sensitive employee information is being handled securely when liaising with insurance intermediaries, warns PMI Health Group.

The advice from the employee healthcare and risk management specialist comes as the EU looks to strengthen its Data Protection Directive, in the wake of increased penalties for breaches of the UK Data Protection Act (DPA).

“Although most HR departments will have internal processes in place to ensure that personal employee data is held and processed securely, managers should also ensure external suppliers and consultancies meet the exacting requirements of the Data Protection Act,” said PMI Health Group Compliance Director Mike Blake.

“This, quite understandably, is often overlooked.”

Despite financial services providers also having to meet strict Financial Services Authority (FSA) guidelines on data security, there have been a number of high profile cases of data security failings over recent years.

“The transfer of a range of confidential information, from health reports to staff salary and address details, regularly takes place within the insurance industry,” Mike added.

“Technical processes, such as data encryption, should be in place to prevent such information being accessed unlawful. HR professionals should be mindful of this, and the potential risks to employees, when selecting a preferred insurance intermediary.”

EU Justice Minister Viviane Reding recognises the increased risks posed to data security in the new digital age and believes current data protection regulations to be inadequate. A final draft of a new EU Data Protection Directive is expected from Brussels by the end of the year.

In addition, the Information Commissioner, who was granted new powers last year to issue fines of up to &pound500,000 for DPA breaches, has recently called for businesses to agree to consensual data security audits.

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