SWG SECURE: Protecting Canada’s Surveillance Specialists

Mar 2021

Since the late 1960s, the private law enforcement industry has grown more than tenfold. Careers in private law enforcement were rated among “the 30 best-paying fast-track careers.” In recent years, the private investigator industry grew by 33.6% in Ontario as police careers in the province shrank by 6.8%. (1) Private investigation is a growing industry, offering stability and numerous employment opportunities – particularly in Ontario.

South Western Group provides specialized coverage for private law enforcement, surveillance specialists, and other security professionals and companies. We offer expert industry knowledge and tailored coverage to equip brokers interested in serving this market.

Industry Trend: Security and Private Investigation

Private investigators offer a variety of services. Many professionals hold dual licenses in both security and private investigation. This allows the professional or agency to provide a broad range of services to their clients, both guarding and patrolling important sites and the capacity to investigate threats and illegal activities.

The role of a private investigator is often misunderstood, and these security professionals often come up against clients’ misconceptions about their role. Much of these misconceptions come from ignorance of Canada’s unique privacy laws. Since Canada’s privacy laws are relatively strict, investigators are more limited compared to the United States in what information they may obtain.

The Role of a Private Investigator

Private investigators are governed provincially. Under the Private Security and Investigative Services Act (PSISA), private investigators must hold a valid license, adhere to a code of conduct, and follow a set of designated rules and regulations.

Private investigators may legally:

  • Conduct background checks (i.e. obtain and provide information on the personal character or actions of a person),
  • Obtain and provide information on the business character or kind of business or occupation of a person,
  • Search for offenders against the law,
  • Search for missing persons,
  • Search for missing property, and
  • Conduct undercover operations.

Under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA), consent is required for the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information.

Private investigators are legally required to carry general liability insurance in the amount of at least $2,000,000. (2)

Private investigators are not legally permitted to impersonate a police officer (e.g. by wearing badges, uniforms, or other symbols of authority on their person or vehicle) and cannot make arrests or conduct other police work. In addition, private investigators cannot wiretap conversations, nor enter someone’s property if it is not authorized, nor remain on someone’s private property after permission has been withdrawn.

If a private investigator breaks any of these regulations, they could lose their license, receive a fine, and/or face imprisonment.

Liability Exposure for Private Investigators

Personal Injury Defined: Personal Injury means injury, other than “bodily injury,” arising out of one or more of the following offenses:

  • False arrest, detention, or imprisonment;
  • Malicious prosecution;
  • Wrongful entry or eviction;
  • An oral or written publication of material that slanders or libels a person or organization or disparages a person’s or organizations goods, products, or services, or that violates a person’s right of privacy;
  • Discrimination or humiliation that results in injury to the feelings or reputation of a natural person (subject to certain policy restrictions)

Personal Injury is inherent with Private Investigators. Investigators are typically tasked with providing evidence and proof of wrongdoing, which leads to that third party being injured as described above.

SWG Secure

SWG Secure provides coverage not normally offered by traditional insurers. Businesses that provide security guard services, private investigators, alarm systems, and locksmiths as well as others requiring entry to private living quarters, need a unique type of protection, Failure to Perform, which is typically excluded under standard coverage.

Our program takes into account all factors relevant to your client’s situation, including Provincial Licensing requirements, helping to avoid unpleasant surprises down the road. You can trust us to evaluate the complete risk picture, offering coverage for all potential exposures, including personal injury, failure to perform, bodily injury, legal expenses, property damage, and a host of other circumstances.

You may have turned down this type of high-risk client in the past, but with South Western Group’s support, you can provide a wide range of coverage options at fair and competitive prices.

Coverage Highlights:

  • Commercial General Liability (Occurrence Form):
  • Failure to Perform
  • Personal Injury
  • Bodily Injury and Property Damage – Broad Form
  • Products & Completed Operations
  • Non-Owned Auto (including physical damage)
  • Legal Expense & Defense Cost Reimbursement – $25,000 Each Occurrence; $25,000 Annual Aggregate
  • Fire Extinguishing Agent Release
  • Incidental Malpractice
  • Contingent Employers Liability
  • Employee Benefits Liability – Claims Made – $1,000,000 Limit
  • Tenants Legal Liability – $250,000 Sub-Limit
  • Lost Key Cover – $50,000 Sub-limit
  • Blanket Additional Insured’s Clause

Other coverage available:

  • Errors and Omissions – Claims Made – $250,000 Limit Each Occurrence; $250,000 Annual Aggregate (higher limits available)
  • Crime Coverage – Employee Dishonesty including 3rd party property
  • Property Insurance
  • Business Interruption – Profits/Gross Earnings/Extra Expense
  • Mechanical Breakdown
  • Cyber Liability
  • Employee Benefits Liability
  • Employers Liability

Visit our product page for more details. Or, if you didn’t see what you were looking for on this list, contact us.

Content is current as of the date of broadcast and is subject to change without notice.


  1. https://cspis.com/private-security-industry-growth/
  2. https://www.legalline.ca/legal-answers/