The UK branch of Zurich Insurance plc (“Zurich UK”) announced today, that it has written to Zurich Private Clients, Zurich Special Risks and Zurich Business Insurance Direct customers and other parties in the UK to inform them of the loss of a back-up data tape in South Africa and the remedial actions being taken.
The customer letters also set out the precautionary measures that Zurich UK recommends that customers can take as well as the steps that Zurich UK has in place to support them.
The back-up tape was lost during a routine transfer within South Africa to a data storage centre in August 2008. The back-up tape also held details of customers and other parties in South Africa and Botswana. Zurich UK’s investigation into the loss of the back-up tape has revealed deficiencies in the management of data tape security procedures in South Africa.
To date, Zurich UK has seen no evidence to suggest that this data has been misused or compromised.
UK Life policies are not affected by this matter, which impacts only a small percentage of Zurich UK general insurance customers. In addition to writing to its customers, Zurich UK is today contacting relevant brokers to ensure they are in a position to give customers all the support they need.
Zurich UK has appointed KPMG to conduct a thorough investigation of this matter. KPMG will also be supporting Zurich UK to strengthen its data security procedures. At the same time, Zurich UK has taken steps to improve the security around the transportation of its data tapes.
The Financial Services Authority has been kept fully informed about this matter. Zurich UK has also notified the UK Information Commissioner’s Office.
Annette Court, CEO Europe General Insurance of Zurich Financial Services Group, said: “We apologise to any customers affected by this unfortunate matter. We take the security of our customers’ data very seriously. What has happened is unacceptable to us.”
“At this time, our first and foremost concern is our customers and we are doing all we can to support and assist them in these circumstances and have put in place a dedicated response team to help support them.”
“We are implementing the necessary steps to minimise the impact of this situation on our customers. Protecting our customers’ interest is at the top of our agenda. We are putting a great deal of investment into strengthening our internal processes to ensure that incidents of this nature do not happen again in the future.”
Zurich UK has provided affected customers with a dedicated telephone number in their letters. Other customers in the UK can call 08000 152 183 (or +44 1709 764401 if they are abroad) or write to Zurich Insurance plc, PO Box 641, Fareham, Hampshire, PO14 9JP if they have any concerns.