OGC Op. No. 08-06-13
The Office of General Counsel issued the following opinion on June 12, 2008, representing the position of the New York Insurance Department.
RE: Retention of Insurance Declaration Pages
Is an insurer required to retain in its records duplicate copies of insurance declaration pages that specify to whom the pages were sent (i.e., home office or insured)?
No. Neither the New York Insurance Law nor N.Y. Comp. Codes R. and Regs., tit. 11, Part 243 (Regulation 152) requires an insurer to keep duplicate copies of insurance declaration pages. An insurer may choose to retain only one copy of such documents.
When an insurance policy is issued, copies of the declaration pages are sent by the insurer to the insured and others. On each of these copies it may be indicated to whom it was sent. The inquirer asks whether an insurer is legally obligated to keep all of the copies that it sends, each of which is substantively identical to the others but for the fact that each copy specifies the recipient.
Under Regulation 152, insurers must retain declaration pages as part of their policy records. Under 11 NYCRR § 243.2(a), “every insurer shall maintain its claims, rating, underwriting, marketing, complaint, financial, and producer licensing records, and such other records subject to examination by the superintendent, in accordance with the provisions of this Part.” Further, Section 243.2(b)(1)(iii) specifies that declaration pages are included in the policy record. Therefore, the declaration pages must be kept by an insurer as part of the policy record. Moreover, under 11 NYCRR § 243.2(b)(1), these pages must be maintained as part of the policy record “for six calendar years after the date the policy is no longer in force or until after the filing of the report on examination in which the record is subject to review, whichever is longer.”
However, as the inquirer notes in the inquiry, Regulation 152 is silent as to whether an insurer must retain multiple copies of declaration pages, when each specifies to whom the declaration page was delivered.
Regulation 152 does not require an insurer to retain multiple copies of declaration pages as to a particular insurance policy, since one declaration is duplicative of the others. Therefore, an insurer need only retain one copy of the declaration pages applicable to each of its policies in order to comply with the retention requirements of Regulation 152.
Please note, however, that an insurer must be prepared (should it become an issue) to prove that the declaration pages were, in fact, delivered to certain persons or offices. Also, an insurer must be prepared to provide such proof to the Insurance Department in connection with a Department investigation or examination of the insurer.
For further information, you may contact Principal Attorney Barbara A. Kluger at the New York City office.