Illinois Department of Insurance won’t fine MetLife… for now

Would the state of Illinois have treated a bank or health care provider the same way if the same data had been exposed by them?

The Illinois Department of Insurance says it won’t fine insurance agency MetLife, at least for now, after a 13 News investigation revealed MetLife files were thrown into a dumpster without being shredded.

13 News brought you this exclusive story in January when a man called our newsroom after finding the documents which contained social security numbers, birth dates and balances of MetLife customers.

In a statement released by the Illinois Department of Insurance Tuesday, MetLife provided an inventory of the documents, which contained 171 customer names and were mainly from two insurance agents.


The type of information pulled from the dumpster included client files, policy statements, policy illustrations, policy notices, miscellaneous production reports and investment blotters. Information in the client files were applications for insurance which included the types of policies applied for by the consumer, consumer’s personal information such as social security numbers, names, addresses, phone numbers, medical history, some financial information, etc. The blotters consisted of consumer names and a short description their investments through MetLife Securities.

Read more on WREX.

Dissent comments:

So medical history was included, and yet an insurance company is not a HIPAA or HITECH-covered entity in terms of unsecured personal health information. How much does it matter to consumers whether their medical history is in a dumpster due to an insurance company’s lapse or a health care provider’s lapse? Should all entities that collect personal health information be held to the same standard for data protection and breach notification? I think so, but that’s not the way our federal and state laws work.

Of course, it may well be that the state of Illinois would treat a health care provider who exposed the same information under similar circumstances the same way. But how reassuring would that be?

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