It is important to understand how long you should keep your car insurance records. Also, it is important to determine whether or not you can throw away your policy documents throughout the term of your insurance policy. You can discard some documents fast, but you should keep the rest for a longer time. It is simple to decide which documents to keep and which ones you should discard.
Keep the documents you are responsible for
You will need to know how long you can keep your auto insurance statements and insurance policies. This will help you determine why they might be needed in the future. You will be receiving a variety of documents as part of your auto coverage. These documents should be kept:
Your auto insurance card. The card can be carried in a small wallet or glove box and should always be with you while driving your car. Your auto insurer may provide a digital copy of your insurance card. However, a paper copy can be useful as a backup in case you lose your phone. The card must be in your car in some states. If you are stopped by police, they will ask for proof of insurance. If you are involved in an accident, you will need proof of insurance. It contains your policy number as well as other information that you can exchange with the other driver.
This page is the declarations page for your auto insurance policy. This page will be included with all other policy documents, whether you are purchasing new insurance coverage or renewing an existing policy. The declarations page contains your name, address, and description of your insured vehicle. It also includes your policy number. This document should be kept safe until you get a new one.
Documents that relate to a claim. Keep all receipts, repairs bills, and other documentation pertaining to an open claim with your auto insurance. Once you receive a check, the claim can be closed, these documents can be destroyed.
Your monthly billing statement. If your insurance is connected to a business, it may be beneficial to keep a copy of your monthly billing statements for tax purposes. You may be required to provide copies of your bills from the past seven years if you are subject to audit. You may be able access past bills online, depending on which insurer you have.
Your premium. Although this information is not on your billing statement, it is important to keep track of it for the long-term. Staying aware of your rates over the years gives you a clear sense of how often your rates are changing — which might have you thinking about shopping your coverage if your rates are high. Looking at the average cost you paid in 2019 vs. what you are paying now may help you determine if you are paying too much or getting a good deal.
You don’t need documents
Knowing what you can and cannot throw away is an important part of determining how long insurance records should be kept. These are some items you don’t have to keep forever:
- This is your main policy document. This multi-page document contains all details about your policy coverage, limits, discounts, coverage and endorsements. These pages are often kept by policyholders until renewal. That is perfectly fine. It isn’t necessary, as many insurers provide digital access through your company’s website. You can keep the documents if your insurer doesn’t offer this feature. However, you will receive a new policy package by mail when you renew. These documents can be thrown away once your policy is expired and no longer cost you.
- Paid premiums – Cancelled checks Cancelled checks are no longer returned by many banks. If your bank does not return canceled checks, you can destroy the checks after reconciling them with your account.
How long do insurance records need to be kept?
Bankrate examined the length of insurance statements. It found that even the longest, such as your policy documents, don’t need to be kept for more than one year. If you do not have a claim during the policy term, you can discard the old policy once you have the new one. You can also throw away any records that were not in force. If you have documents that you don’t need anymore for an automobile, you can throw them out.
You will typically receive a new set each year, or semi-annually in certain cases. These documents are no longer required to be kept. You should file the new copies along with the old ones.
Do not panic if you lose or misplace your current policy documents. You may be able access all documents online by your insurer. To get a replacement copy, all you need to do is call your agent.
However, there is an important exception to these rules. If you have an unresolved claim for an auto accident or mishap, or if you are at risk of having a claim made against you by another driver due to your insurance, you should retain all documents related to the accident. Even if your policy is no more active, this applies.
It can take many years to resolve claims. It can take years to resolve all medical bills and invoices if an accident results in medical expenses. You may have also sold your vehicle or closed your insurance account. You should keep your policy documents in order to be certain that no additional costs will be incurred.
How to dispose of your old insurance policies properly
According to the Insurance Information Institute, identity theft is on the rise in the United States. If your policy documents are found in the trash or at a dumpsite, they may contain personal data such as names, addresses, policy numbers, and other information. An enterprising criminal could use these documents for their own gain. You should always throw away anything with your name or other identifying information.
This job can be done with a small home shredder. Many local banks and companies offer shredding services.
Questions frequently asked
Which is the best auto insurer?
Although there is no one “best” auto insurance company that works for everyone, Bankrate has identified the companies that offer the best prices, most comprehensive coverage options and superior customer service on our Best Auto Insurance Companies for 2021 listing. These companies are a good place to start your search to find auto insurance.
Can I get rid of old insurance policies?
You can throw away the old policy when you get your new policy by mail every renewal. Keep the billing statements and declarations page, and ensure you have your auto insurance card with you when driving. If there is no open claim or possibility of an opening claim, you can destroy policy documents.
How do I save documents?
There are many options for storing your insurance documents. A small portable, fire-resistant lockbox can be a good option if you need to keep paper copies. This should not be stored in your basement in the event of flooding. Consider offsite storage, such as on a flash drive, cloud storage or another portable storage option. Sites like Dropbox or iCloud allow you to store electronic documents securely and make them accessible from any device, no matter where it is.