September 2019


Personal data lecture sparks debate

by Jonathan Scragg, 2019 NZILA annual lecture series convenor, with assistance from NZILA Vice-President Kavita Deobhakta

NZILA was fortunate to host Dr Aysegul Buğra, from Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey, to give the 2019 NZILA annual lecture series. 

It was NZILA’s fourth annual lecture series, modelled on AILA’s annual Geoff Masel lecture series.

Previous speakers have been Professor Ian Enright, from Australia (2016); Neil Campbell QC, from New Zealand (2017); and Rob Merkin QC, from the UK (2018).

New Zealand insurance law firm Fee Langstone generously sponsored the lecture series to enable NZILA to bring Dr Buğra from Turkey to New Zealand. 

One of NZILA’s goals is to bring international speakers to NZ, including by drawing on NZILA’s AIDA membership. Dr Buğra gave a similar presentation to AIDA’s 2018 World Congress in Rio de Janeiro and adapted her presentation for NZ’s lecture series.

Dr Buğra’s presentation, Collecting and processing personal data in insurance: New practices and challenges, was held on three consecutive days in May 2019 in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. 

NZILA was delighted to attract a speaker with an international reputation to travel to NZ to give the lecture series. 

Dr Buğra’s presentation had a distinctly international flavour, covering four key issues:

• Data collected through wearables (smart watches and fitness trackers) and interactive life insurance
• Data collected through online media and relevant challenges
• Genetic data’s use in house and life insurance, and
• Gender as a risk factor in motor vehicle insurance.

The lecture struck a perfect balance between legal and practical principles, giving audiences an opportunity to consider the social implications of collecting personal data within a legal framework.

Dr Buğra canvassed the international framework for collecting, storing and processing health-related data for insurance purposes. That gave attendees an insight into how the NZ framework and the application of the Privacy Act 1993 and the Health Information Privacy Code 1994 might cope with the changing face of data collection and storage. 

The lecture sparked significant debate in all centres. In Auckland, there was particular debate about insurers’ rights to request policyholders to undertake, for example, predictive genetic testing. Dr Buğra talked about the framework for disclosing genetic testing results and ultimately an insurer’s right to accept or refuse cover where an applicant has a serious genetic disease.

Dr Buğra assessed how those issues should be solved in the context of the rules of insurance contract law, data protection and privacy, and rules on discrimination (human rights).

The lecture series was well received with attendees saying that to have an internationally renowned speaker presenting in NZ showed NZILA’s commitment to providing members with access to internationally discussed topics and recognised speakers.

Dr Buğra is director of the Dr Nüsret-Semahat Arsel International Business Law Implementation and Research Centre and an Assistant Professor in transport and insurance law at Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey. She holds LLM and PhD degrees from the University of Southampton (UK) where she also worked as a tutor and research fellow.

She has received the British Insurance Law Association book prize (2018), the European Commission Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Module Grant (2018), AIDA’s Europe Conference best paper prize (2018), the Turkish Science Academy’s young scientist award (2016), and a Modern Law Review grant (2012).

Dr Buğra is the author of Insurance law implications of delay in maritime transport (Informa Law from Routledge, 2017) and contributed to A legal and regulatory view on insurtech (Springer, 2019) with a chapter, Room for compulsory product liability insurance in the European Union for smart robots? Reflections on the compelling challenges. She is an AIDA Presidential Council member.

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Resolve is the official publication of the Australian Insurance Law Association and
the New Zealand Insurance Law Association.