Your data is essential
Service companies, such as accounting, architecture or consulting firms, clinics or professional offices, are particularly vulnerable to data loss. Imagine there’s a fire and all contracts, invoices, accounts receivable, databases, records, manuscripts, historical documents and plans (architectural or other) literally go up in smoke!
Such a loss would threaten not only the operations, but also the firm’s survival.
2 types of coverage usually offered by insurance companies
- Valuable papers and records
This covers the cost of reconstructing or transcribing documents and records that were damaged or lost following a covered loss. If they cannot be replaced, the insurance company may cover the value of the lost or destroyed property, in some cases.
- Accounts receivable
This coverage has 2 parts: if it is possible to recover data following a covered loss, it covers the cost of reconstructing accounts receivable records. If the data are unrecoverable, it covers the amounts the company is unable to collect when its records are destroyed.
Ask your insurer about the types of coverage available to you.
3 ways to safeguard valuable documents
Take measures to reduce the risk of losing valuable documents or records.
Safes and vaults
- Protect your valuable documents against fire and burglary by keeping them in a place such as a safe or vault.
- All documents must be returned to the safe or vault as soon as possible after each use.
Chemical extinguishing system
- Documents can be damaged by water from sprinkler systems, so it’s best to have a dry chemical extinguishing system.
- There are many advantages to scanning: in addition to providing quick and easy access to your documents (even remotely), scanning frees up office space and reduces archiving costs. It also helps reduce paper handling, which in the long run can contribute to document deterioration.
- All documents can be scanned, but in some cases the original should not be destroyed.
- When you scan documents to eliminate paper copies, the transfer from one medium to another must be done in accordance with the Act to establish a legal framework for information technology and the Règlement sur la tenue des dossiers et des études des notaires.1
- You can scan your documents yourself or hire a specialized subcontractor, in which case a confidentiality agreement should be signed to protect the sensitive data being scanned. Before taking these steps, first assess your needs and consider any legal constraints.
Document backup and archiving
- Backup is used to duplicate scanned documents that can be modified or replaced. It’s generally used for short-term needs.
- Archiving is used to store scanned documents for a long period of time, whether for legal, historical or information needs. The archiving period varies depending on the value of the scanned documents.
- With today’s computer systems, it’s easy to copy valuable documents, invoices and accounts receivable and transfer the data to a second computer at a different location. This operation should be carried out on a daily basis.
- Some conditions must be met to keep documents on computer media:
- Protect access to data with secure passwords.
- Maintain a list of people who have access to documents or can make changes to them.
In conclusion, bear in mind that it is equally important to store computer data in your company’s safe or vault as it is paper documents.
1.Chambre des notaires du Québec, Guide relatif à la numérisation des dossiers des notaires, 2008 (only available in French).
Article written in collaboration with Wilfrid Tanguay inc., risk inspection services.
The information and advice in this article are provided for information purposes only. The&NBSP;Personal shall not be liable for any damages arising from any reliance upon such information or advice. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.