How long should you keep your auto insurance records? It depends on the type of documents. Learn what to store and for how long, plus what’s safe to throw away or shred. Having the correct documents in a safe place can make it easier when you need to confirm policy details, have an accident, or need to file a claim. Bankrate’s team of insurance experts breaks down everything you need to know below.
documents to keep
Knowing how long to keep auto insurance statements and how long to keep insurance policy documents requires you to determine if and why you’ll need them in the future. There are a number of documents you will receive as part of your auto insurance coverage that you should keep:
Reading: How long do insurance cards last
- your auto insurance card. This small card must be provided at the request of a police officer or if you are involved in an accident in many states. keep them while the policy term is valid, either in your wallet, glove box, center console, or as a digital file that you can easily access on your smartphone.
- Your auto insurance policy declarations page. An auto declaration page gives you a snapshot of your policy’s coverage types and limits, as well as details about what might be excluded from your policy. Please keep this copy of the policy in a safe and accessible place, such as a file cabinet or desk drawer, until the policy period is no longer active and all open claims during the period have been resolved.
- documents related to a claim. If you have an open claim with your auto insurer, keep all receipts, repair bills and any other documents related to the claim. these documents can be disposed of once you have received a check and the claim is officially closed.
- Your monthly statement. It may be a good idea to keep your monthly statements until payment has been processed or the policy period has ended, unless your policy belongs to a business, where your tax professional might recommend that you keep the returns for a few years. Statements should be kept in a safe place, such as a file cabinet or drawer.
- your main policy document. this is the multi-page document that includes all the details about your policy limits, discounts, coverage, policy endorsements and more. many people choose to keep these pages until they renew their policy, which is fine. but it is not really necessary since many insurers offer digital access to these documents through your account on the company’s website. If your insurer doesn’t have this functionality, keep it until you receive a new policy packet in the mail when you renew. once your policy has expired and you are no longer paying for it, you can also discard these documents.
- paid premiums canceled checks. many banks no longer return your canceled checks. if yours does, you can shred the checks once you’ve reconciled them to your account.
- Previous ID cards. Most auto insurance policies are valid for six months to a year. When your policy renews, you’ll get a new set of ID cards with the current policy period dates and a future expiration date. once your old ID cards expire, they are no longer needed and can be destroyed.
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documents you don’t need to keep
Determining how long to keep insurance records also means knowing what can be thrown out and when. here are some elements you don’t have to keep indefinitely:
how long insurance records should be kept
bankrate looked at how long insurance statements should be kept. some of the longer ones, like your actual policy documents, don’t need to be kept for more than a year. Once you have the new policy in hand, the old one can usually be thrown away, unless there is an open claim that still needs to be resolved. In this case, it is a good idea to keep all documents, including receipts, until the claim has been closed and all payments have been received.
If your policy is for a business, you may need to retain records for up to seven years, as determined by your tax professional. keeping insurance documents in a climate-controlled place can prevent mold or discoloration, and a waterproof and fireproof safe can further protect them. once it’s time to dispose of documents, a cross-cut shredder is one of the best ways to prevent identity theft of sensitive information that paperwork may contain.
If for some reason you accidentally discard the current policy documents, don’t worry. Your insurer will have copies of all documents on file and you may also be able to access them online. a quick call to your agent or company representative should be enough to issue a new copy to replace the discarded one.
how to properly dispose of old insurance policies
identity theft is on the rise in the us. USA, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Your policy documents may contain names and addresses, policy numbers, and other personal information, and an enterprising thief may use them for personal gain if your documents are found in the trash or in a landfill. In general, you should always shred anything with your name or identifying details on it.
A small home shredder should be adequate for disposing of your old insurance documents. a cross-cut shredder will cut pages in two directions, making it difficult for would-be thieves to get information from discarded documents. some office stores offer shredding services, and many local banks or companies regularly offer free shredding days for residents in many areas.