Liabilities and Exposures Created When Agency Business Email is Forwarded to Personal Accounts

20thJan. × ’09

I have had several insurance agency managers and owners tell me recently that they have employees who prefer to forward business emails to personal accounts because they are more comfortable with their personal email service, or they want to work at home and the agency doesn’t have or permit web mail access to the agency email.

You cannot stop agency employees from forwarding emails to themselves, but approving of the practice can create some risks for your agency.

  • Emails sitting on home computers can potentially be viewed by any family member; including kids and friends of family members. It is inevitable that private client information will be contained in some of these emails. Allowing employees to forward business emails creates privacy violation possibilities.
  • You have some control over viruses when employees use business email, but not so much when personal email is used. What happens when your employees’ personal (business email) transmits a virus that crashes a client’s business email? The possibilities are gruesome and numerous.
  • Permitting employees to forward work emails to personal accounts can allow individual employees, over time, to amass a good deal of account information in a repository outside of the agency. That provides a great big hole in any measures you may have taken to protect proprietary account information, and can make it easier for an employee leaving the agency to take accounts with them.
  • What about allowing only ‘trusted employees’ to forward business email to personal accounts? Unfortunately, the precedent set can allow another ‘less trusted’ employee to forward email and then claim they didn’t realize the policy regarding forwarding emails was selective.

Employees may still forward emails, but random monitoring of outgoing email should alert you to any violations of a policy against forwarding to personal addresses.

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