Insurers seek access to mental health and driving data

Insurers seek access to mental health and driving data | Insurance Business Australia

Insurers seek access to mental health and driving data
Insurance companies demanding access to consumer data has Australians fearing privacy violations.

Insurers are seeking to gain access to data on demerit points accrued by drivers for speeding, drunk-driving, or running red lights, as well as for mental health.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Roads and Maritime Services told the Daily Telegraph that it was giving an unnamed insurer a “yes or no response” when asked if a motorist had demerit points.

“The number of points, offence details, and other private information is not provided,’’ she said.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has revealed, however, that greenslip insurers have asked the department for “real time” data, as they aim to offer lower CTP premiums to safer drivers.

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“Insurers remain in conversation with the regulators in NSW about the possibility of accessing real-time data on demerit points accrued by policyholders,’’ ICA spokesman Campbell Fuller said.

“Insurers would be able to offer lower CTP premiums to safer drivers. However, evidence of unsafe driving, such as demerit points for speeding, may result in insurers quoting higher premiums.’’

The Productivity Commission is set to submit a recommendation for governments to give private companies controlled access to public databases, by virtue of a new Data Sharing and Release Act, the report said.

Aside from driving data, insurers have also pushed for mental health data to be designated a “national interest dataset” and be made freely available.

Fuller said that what insurers wanted access to is not individual medical records, but databases that show information about how many people suffer mental health conditions and the duration and outcome of illnesses, the report said.

“More granular, up-to-date data is essential to accurately assess the risk of providing cover for mental illness-related claims, and to create the right conditions for improved access to general insurance for those with a mental illness,’’ he said.

NSW Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Coombs wants the government agencies’ plans to sell data to private companies to undergo debate.

“A lot of debate needs to occur over any proposal to monetise data held by the public sector,’’ she told the Daily Telegraph. “Health information is so sensitive, you have to be so very careful.”

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