The Ohio Department of Insurance’s recent “data call” for life settlement and sensitive policyholder information was anti-consumer, and it would have put the department in violation of own mission. That’s bad for business as well as consumers.
If implemented, the data call could have resulted in making public considerable personal information about individual life policyholders who have sold their policies in settlement transactions. It might have also spurred other states to follow suit, opening up a private information free-for-all. Identity theft and worse may have ensued, in Ohio and elsewhere.
That’s bad for business, because it would undermine customer confidence in entering settlement transactions that would be in the customers’ best interests.
It is good that the DOI has now halted its decision to collect that “data.”
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Such data collection would not have been a step forward in protecting consumers, as the DOI is charged to do under its very own mission statement. As written on the Ohio DOI website , that mission is to “provide consumer protection through education and fair but vigilant regulation while promoting a stable and competitive environment for insurers.”
Why would the data call not have protected consumers? Because the nature of the information sought, on completed settlements, concerns not only details about settlement providers and transactions. It also seeks uniquely personal data about insureds involved in these transactions.
The personal data sought includes the name and addresses of the insured, date of birth, whether chronically or terminally ill, and life expectancy, along with information about the original life policy, including the time elapsed between the purchase of the policy and its sale, writes Trevor Thomas in this month’s Settlement Watch Feature article (March 2009).
If the DOI went ahead and gathered that information, it is very likely that it would have become public information or subject to public information requests and all the privacy issues that such requests entail. This could happen because most information at the DOI is considered public information.