A health insurance agent is at a holiday party among friends and neighbors. He’s feeling comfortable and the opportunity arises to share a “funny” story about a client of his involving an unfortunate and somewhat embarrassing injury the client suffered that has created a permanent condition.
The person wasn’t seriously injured, but this type of sensitive information isn’t something most people would be comfortable with anyone else knowing. It’s “need to know” only. The only reason the agent knew about it at all was because the person was applying for health insurance and inquired as to if something like this would need to be disclosed as part of the application.
The agent has his “agent hat” off. After all, he’s at a holiday party amongst friends. He is not thinking of the ethics of his profession at this time. As a result, the agent launches into the strange and sordid tale, capturing the attention of everyone within earshot exposing private information about his client.
In the course of telling the story, the agent inadvertently reveals some details about the client’s background that essentially removes the cloak of anonymity from the client for anyone who really thinks about who it could be in their community.
Among friends or not, this agent just committed an ethics violation. Even without inadvertently giving too many clues as to the client’s identity. Specifically, standard No. 3 according to the Million Dollar Round Table’s Code of Ethics, which reads: “Hold in the strictest confidence, and consider as privileged, all business and personal information pertaining to your clients’ affairs.”