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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 05-1798


Updated Guidelines for Record Retention; No. 2005-09

[35 Pa.B. 5335]

   This notice supersedes Insurance Department (Department) Notice No. 2000-07 regarding the guidelines for retention of records by insurers and other entities subject to examination by the Department. This notice and accompanying Record Retention Guidelines (Guidelines) are intended to assist insurers and other examinees in establishing appropriate record retention procedures for purposes of examinations by the Department under Article IX of The Insurance Department Act of 1921 (40 P. S. §§ 323.1--323.8) (act).

   The Department's general requirement is that all relevant records of transactions occurring since the conclusion of the last financial examination must be retained for 5 years from the date of the last financial examination or until the conclusion of a subsequent financial examination, whichever time is greater. The accompanying Guidelines supplement this general requirement by providing guidance in the establishment of appropriate retention periods for specific types of records.

   Of course, the Guidelines are recommended minimum retention periods and do not affect any record retention requirements that may be in excess of the Guidelines, such as requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, other regulatory agencies, statutes of limitation or other applicable laws or regulations. The Department recognizes the need for insurers to exercise discretion in establishing record retention requirements in accordance with advice of legal counsel and that insurers may determine that longer retention periods are necessary or advisable. In addition, under the authority in the act, the Department may require whatever additional records may be necessary to readily verify the financial condition of an insurer and ascertain whether the insurer has complied with the laws of this Commonwealth. For purposes of financial examinations, the Department will permit foreign insurers to retain financial records either for the length of time specified in the Guidelines or for the length of time required for examination purposes in the insurers' home states.

   With respect to the use of electronic paperless filing systems, 15 Pa.C.S. § 107 (relating to form of records) which applies to insurance corporations provides, in part:

Any records maintained by a corporation or other association in the regular course of its business including shareholder or membership records, books of account and minute books, may be kept on, or be in the form of, punch cards, magnetic storage media, photographs, microphotographs or any other information storage device if the records so kept can be converted into reasonable legible written form within a reasonable time.

   Sections 903 and 904 of the act (40 P. S. §§ 323.3 and 323.4) require entities subject to the Department's examination to keep records in such manner as the Department may require in order to readily verify the examinee's financial condition and compliance with laws and to provide timely, convenient and free access to all records. Therefore, insurers are not prohibited from using paperless filing technology as long as their records are readily accessible and useable for examination purposes.

   A paperless system should include adequate controls and be appropriately tested to identify and correct any deficiencies. Consideration should be given to the need to determine the validity or identify any alteration of certain documents, such as applications for insurance or death certificates and receipt dates. There must be an ability to produce usable hard copy, including entire approved form/rate filings with the Department's approval stamps.

   Appropriate security systems should be maintained at record storage sites, as well as adequate protection from loss or damage by fire or other hazards. Sufficient visual terminals must be available to assure that examiners are not hampered by an inability to access data during the course of an examination.

   Record retention is a matter in which an insurer's management must use prudent judgment, subject to applicable statutory requirements or restrictions. Questions concerning record retention may be directed to David DelBiondo, Director, Bureau of Financial Examinations, (717) 783-2142, with respect to financial examinations; or Dennis Shoop, Director of the Bureau of Enforcement, (717) 783-2627, with respect to market conduct examinations.

Guidelines for Retention of Records

Type of Record Retention Period
Accounts Payable Ledgers and    Schedules 5 years*
Accounts Receivable Ledgers and    Schedules 5 years*
Advertisement Files (including Internet    ads) 5 years*
Agent Commission Schedules 5 years*
Agent Contracts 5 years*
Agent Discrepancies 5 years*
Agent Licensing Records (including    effective/termination dates) 5 years*
(from termination)
Agent Terminations (including copies of    notices to agents and Insurance    Department) 5 years*
Annual/Quarterly Statement Blank and    Supporting Workpapers 5 years*
Bank Reconciliations 5 years*
Borrowed Money Documents 5 years*
(after amount borrowed is paid off)
Capital Stock and Bond Records    (ledgers, transfer registers, stubs    showing issues, record of interest    coupons, opinions) Permanently
Cash Books 5 years*
CPA Annual Audit Reports and    Management Letters Permanently
Charts of Accounts 5 years*
Checks (cancelled)
   (records of uncashed drafts or    checks)
5 years*
7 years
(or in accordance with escheat laws)
Checks (cancelled for important    payments, such as taxes, purchases of    property, special contracts) Permanently
Claims Files (loss reports, reported and    paid claims files, including a complete    chronological record) 5 years*
Collateral Loans (closing documents,    appraisals/valuation documents,    payment history, collateral    documents) 5 years*
(after repayment)
Conflict of Interest Statements 5 years*
Consumer Complaints (including log of    complaints and correspondence with    state insurance department) 5 years*
Note: Failure to maintain a complete    record of all complaints received during the preceding 4 years is a violation of the Unfair Insurance Practices Act (See 40 P. S. § 1171.5(11)).
Contracts and Leases 5 years*
(after expiration)
Correspondence with Policyholders    (routine) 5 years*
Correspondence (general) 5 years*
Correspondence (legal and important    matters) Permanently
Correspondence with State Insurance    Departments (other than    correspondence regarding complaints) Permanently
Duplicate Deposit Slips 5 years*
Employee Personnel Records 5 years*
(after termination)
Expense Analyses and Expense    Allocation Schedules 5 years*
Forms (approved by a State insurance    department) 2 years
(after claims can no longer be reported under the form)
General and Subsidiary Ledgers and    End-of-Year Trial Balances 5 years*
Holding Company Registration    Statements 5 years*
Internal Audit Reports 5 years*
Internal Insurance Records (current loss    reports, claims, policies for insurance    coverages purchased by the company    for its own protection) Permanently
Internal Reports (miscellaneous) 5 years*
Inventories of Furniture, Fixtures and    Equipment 5 years*
(after disposal)
Investment Plan 5 years*
Investment Records (buy and sell    invoices, ledgers, journals, broker    statements, custodial/trust account    statements) 5 years*
Invoices from Vendors 5 years*
Journals 5 years*
Limited Partnership Interests    (partnership agreement, partnership    financial statements, records of    distributions, equity valuation    information) 5 years*
(after disposal)
Litigation Records Permanently
Minute Books of Directors and    Stockholders (or Policyholders) and    Committees (including by-laws and    charter) Permanently
Mortgage Loans (closing documents,    appraisals, payment history, rent    rolls) 5 years*
(after repayment)
Notes Receivable Ledgers and    Schedules 5 years*
Other Invested Assets (all pertinent    documents) 5 years*
(after disposal)
Payroll Records and Summaries    (including payments to pensioners    and payroll deductions) 5 years*
Petty Cash Vouchers 5 years*
Policy Issue Records (including    underwriter's notes/notices, original    applications, declaration pages,    endorsements and selection forms) 2 years
(after claims can no longer be reported under the policy)
Policy Termination Records (including    documentation) 5 years*
Policyholder Dividend Records 5 years*
Premium Notices and Refunds    (including proof of refund within    required time period) 5 years*
Property Records (including appraisals,    costs, depreciation reserves, end-of-year trial balances, depreciation schedules, titles, plans, deeds, mortgages and agreements of sale) (after no longer have an interest in the property)5 years*
Rate filings (including all rates utilized    during retention period) 5 years*
(after replacement by latest filing)
Reinsurance Contracts (including    records of settlements, trust accounts    and letters of credit) 5 years*
Reports of State Insurance Department    Examinations (financial and market    conduct) 5 years*
Reserve Calculation Documentation    (including actuarial opinion and    supporting actuarial memorandum) 10 years
SEC Filings 5 years*
Subrogation and Salvage Records5 years*
Surrender Request 5 years*
Tax Returns and Worksheets (including    revenue agents' reports and other    documents relating to determination    of income tax liability) 12 years
Unclaimed Property or Escheatable    Funds/Assets 10 years
Vouchers for Payments to Vendors,    employees, etc. (including allowances    and reimbursements of employees,    officers, or other persons for travel    and entertainment expenses) 5 years*
Note:  ''5 years*'' refers to 5 years from the date of the last financial examination by the domiciliary regulator or until the conclusion of a subsequent financial examination, whichever time is greater.

Insurance Commissioner

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 05-1798. Filed for public inspection September 23, 2005, 9:00 a.m.]

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