CLHIA: Only one in four can easily locate their vital documents

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TORONTO, Aug. 31, 2011 – In an emergency, could you access all of your vital documents and records easily and quickly? If your answer is no, you are not alone. According to a recent poll, only 26 per cent of Canadians think their personal and financial information would be easy to access. The poll, conducted by Leger Marketing on behalf of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA), showed that nearly half of Canadians consider their vital documents as “somewhat accessible” and 20 per cent of Canadians admit that their documentation would be difficult to find.

But a new free downloadable tool can help Canadians save their important personal and financial information in one place so that it can be easily located in an emergency. The CLHIA’s Virtual Shoebox prompts people to enter the location of documents such as insurance policies, wills and powers of attorney. It also has an area for recording personal data such as social insurance numbers, passport numbers, health records, home alarm codes, computer passwords, etc.

“It’s so easy not to think about it, but taking a few minutes to organize key documents can be such a relief in a catastrophic situation. Not only does it make our lives easier, but it can make a world of difference to a loved one who has to locate this information in difficult circumstances,” said CLHIA President Frank Swedlove. “The Virtual Shoebox can help save time and money, and lessen anxiety.”

When it comes to being organized, Canadians have more work to do: 56 per cent said their personal and financial information is “somewhat organized” and 11 per cent said it was “not very organized”.

“Whether it’s due to procrastination or its perception as an overwhelming task, people tend to avoid getting their personal and financial papers in order. The CLHIA’s Virtual Shoebox web application guides you through this process and makes the job more manageable,” added Swedlove.

Once completed, the CLHIA recommends printing out a copy of your Virtual Shoebox and putting it in a safe place, or saving an electronic copy in a secured folder to avoid identity theft. The Virtual Shoebox can be accessed at


The Canadian life and health insurance industry provides a wide range of financial security products such as life insurance, annuities (including RRSPs, RRIFs and pensions) and supplementary health insurance, to about 26 million Canadians. It is a trillion dollar industry holding $514 billion of assets in Canada and $500 billion abroad that employs almost 135,000 Canadians. Established in 1894, the CLHIA is a voluntary association whose member companies account for 99 per cent of Canada’s life and health insurance business.