51,000 customers' personal details went missing

Zurich apologised to customers this week after admitting that it had lost a back-up data tape in South Africa that held the personal details of 51,000 UK general insurance customers.

The lost data affected a “small percentage” of UK customers and remedial action was being taken, the insurer said. It went missing in August last year during a routine transfer to a data storage centre.

The insurer said it had advised customers how they could protect themselves against fraud.

It had also appointed KPMG to investigate the loss and to help strengthen its data protection policies in future.

The FSA and the UK Information Commissioner’s Office had been informed.

The company’s Europe chief executive, Annette Court, 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.

"Our first and foremost concern is our customers and we are doing all we can to assist them. We have put in place a dedicated response team to help support them.”

An investigation into the loss has revealed deficiencies in the management of data tape security procedures in South Africa.

Court said Zurich was “putting a great deal of investment” into strengthening its internal processes to ensure that incidents such as this did not happen again.