IC orders companies to secure privacy of client information

Mary Grace Padin - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Insurance Commission (IC) has ordered insurance companies, pre-need firms, health maintenance organizations and mutual benefit associations to ensure the protection of their clients’ personal information.

Under IC Circular Letter 2019-13, dated April 10, Insurance Commissioner Dennis Funa told IC-regulated entities to comply with Republic Act 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012 to secure the personal information that they hold.

“All such regulated and supervised entities are respectively hereby directed to promptly and strictly comply with the provisions of the Data Privacy Act of 2012,” Funa said in the circular letter.

In particular, Funa told IC-regulated entities to register with the National Privacy Commission as a personal information controller or a personal information processor, and to assign an officer who will be in charge of data protection.

The IC chief also directed companies to conduct a privacy impact assessment, and create a privacy manual for the implementation of privacy and data protection measures.

Lastly, Funa said companies should exercise data breach reporting procedures.

The Insurance Commission said it recognizes the role of information and communications technology in nation building and the development of the local insurance industry.

As such, the IC said it is imperative for the commission to ensure that the use of these technologies are safe and secure.

In his earlier speech at the 15th Philippine Insurance Summit, IC deputy commissioner George Ongkeko said the regulator has been on top of this development in the insurance sector, and has so far issued five circular letters on the use of technology.

These include the guidelines on the electronic commerce of insurance products, requirements for online transactions for variable life insurance products, processing of online applications, telemarketing services, and the use of mobile applications for the distribution of products.

Going forward, Ongkeko said the IC would issue more policies to ensure that the use of technologies are safe and beneficial for both providers and policyholders.

He said the IC, itself, is planning to harness the power of technology to simplify its processes, create databases, and improve its performance.

In doing so, Ongkeko said the commission would ensure that information given by companies are kept safe.

According to latest data from the IC, the local insurance industry reported a total premium income of P218.91 billion as of end-September 2018, 18 percent higher than the P185.51 billion posted the same period in the previous year.

The life insurance industry, for its part, recorded positive growth in the first nine months of the year as total premiums rose 20.4 percent to P174.15 billion from P144.63 billion in the same period last year.

 Meanwhile, the net premiums written by the non-life insurance sector also increased by 7.34 percent to P36.83 billion from last year’s level of P34.31 billion. Contributions and premiums collected by mutual benefit associations also grew 21.2 percent to reach P7.93 billion.

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