The Office of General Counsel issued the following opinion on February 19, 2004, representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.
Re: Record Retention of Insurance Applications
May an insurer retain applications for insurance policies by electronic means for purposes of record retention?
Yes. Under N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 11, Part 243 (1996) (Regulation 152) an insurer may, for purposes of record retention, maintain its records by electronic means if it qualifies as a "durable medium" as defined in § 243.1(c) of the Regulation.
An inquirer stated that insurers would like to take advantage of retaining insurance applications in an electronic medium as such a method would be more economical and convenient compared to retention and storage of physical documents.
N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 11, Part 243 (1996) (Regulation 152) establishes standards for record retention by insurance companies. The term "Records" is defined in § 243.1(b) as ". . . books, records, files, securities, data compilations and other documents." Among other things, insurers are permitted to maintain their records in a "durable medium," which is defined in § 243.1(c) as:
a medium for maintaining a record where the properties of such medium provide reasonable assurances against tampering with the information contained in the original and degradation of any reproduction generated, and where the reproduction is an exact copy of the original. The medium may include paper; facsimile; or photographic, micrographic, magnetic, optical, mechanical or electronic media.
If all of the applicable statutory and regulatory requirements are complied with, the New York Insurance Law is not an obstacle to the implementation of the proposed use of retaining records by means of electronic and other approved media.
For further information you may contact Associate Attorney Jeffrey A. Stonehill at the New York City Office.