That’s not always the case, of course, and it’s less and less so the farther back the records go.
Copyrights, patents and mortgages are among the documents whose “hard copies”may be the only versions in existence and enforceable under law. Previous insurance policies are among the most important documents that might not be available electronically. The entire field of “insurance archaeology” exists to locate and, if necessary, reconstruct policies.
Even in situations where electronic copies of paper files are readily available, there are costs for having replacement documents signed, notarized or otherwise made official for public purposes.
That’s why coverage to restore damaged records is still relevant — even when coverage is available for losses to electronic data records. The potential convergence and overlap of these coverages can pose quite a challenge to agents, adjusters and risk managers. At the same time, however, understanding and applying them properly can be an opportunity for these professionals to deliver value to their clients.
If insurance policies are among the most valuable records to reconstruct, it’s because coverage grows broader or narrower over time — and insurers don’t always use the most up-to-date forms.
Consider a loss insured by the 1994 Building and Personal Property Form issued by Insurance Services Office (ISO), the nation’s largest advisory organization for property/casualty insurance. Although ISO has updated the form several times since, the 1994 form or some proprietary offshoots are probably still used by some commercial insurers.
In that form, the additional coverage for “Valuable Papers and Records — Cost of Research” explicitly extended coverage to the cost to research and restore records on electronic media, provided no duplicates existed.
As an extension of coverage for personal property, the valuable papers and records coverage would apply only to losses arising from the perils indicated...