Privacy concerns a priority for insurers, says new CLHIA CEO

by David Keelaghan07 Jul 2017
As the rest of Canada celebrated the nation’s 150th anniversary, the CLHIA was busy welcoming Stephen Frank to the position of president and CEO of the association. Effective July 1, Frank comes into the role following the retirement of Frank Swedlove. The new head previously served as SVP, Policy at the CLHIA, and less than a week into the top job he has already drafted a list of priorities for the life and health insurance body. Key amongst them is overturning the controversial Bill S-201, better known as the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act that prohibits employers and insurers from asking for genetic testing.
“We are not happy where that landed and we will be supporting the Quebec government’s current appeal on the grounds that it is not constitutional,” says Frank. “We hope that we can get relief on that through the courts, then we can move forward with a more thoughtful balanced approach on the need for privacy, but also where insurers can have access to full information when we are underwriting.”
In the era of big data, privacy is becoming more and more of an issue for consumers. The information life and health insurers usually have about clients is even more sensitive, which is what drove the supporters of Bill S-201. In Frank’s opinion, there is a balance to be struck when it comes to the privacy of individuals and the needs of insurers to underwrite properly. This middle ground was not found on Parliament Hill back in March he argues, which needs to be rectified.
“We don’t want to trip that line where we are doing things that are not appropriate from a privacy perspective,” says Frank. “It is not always obvious where that line is, so the discussion will continue for some time in western society to figure out where that line should be.”
The life and health insurance industry is undergoing a period of great change after decades of relative sluggishness in that regard. It is not alone in that respect, and the wider financial services space is having to adapt its model of business too. It’s a challenge the CLHIA is taking very seriously, according to its new CEO.
“The concept of treating customers more fairly – it has caused a rethink of how we distribute our products,” says Frank. “Disclosure of compensation to brokers and advisors; the oversight of our channels, whether it is an MGA or in-house distribution. The big theme now is – are we doing the right things for customers? That goes right to the heart of our business.”

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