Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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In a nutshell...

  • You always want to keep your insurance documents around while your policy is in effect
  • Know your accident history and if there is a chance a claimant may file a claim against you and your insurance carrier
  • Dispose of your insurance documents when you no longer need them to avoid retaining unnecessary documentation

Record retention is something that just about every single person struggles with from time to time. Just how long should you keep a bill around after it has been paid in case there was an error?

How long do you retain something such as your insurance documentation?

Some documents are easy must-keeps, things like your birth certificate, social security card, among others.

It is when you get into some of the other sensitive and important documents that you have, such as your insurance documents, when questions come up and decisions should be made.

You never want to go by the rule of thumb of just keeping everything. When you keep every single piece of documentation you have ever been given, what is inevitably going to happen is that you are going to lose something that is actually important.

Even if you are an extremely organized individual, you will at the very least run out of room eventually.

There is just no need to keep all of that documentation around and this is why it is important to know when you can purge certain things. Enter your zip code above to find car insurance rates that work for your budget!

Know Your Accident History

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The reality with car insurance is that you are not going to report every single little ding that happens to your car, every scratch, even minor fender benders may just get ignored.

If you have had any of these things happen though in recent memory, such as when this last policy was in effect, you may want to hold onto that documentation for a bit.

Not all car insurance claims that someone may file against you and your insurance company is going to happen the minute that the claim occurs.

There are many claimants who will wait a few weeks before they choose to file a claim or even longer in some instances. This is why it is probably a good rule of thumb to keep those insurance documents around for at least a few months after that policy expires.

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Understand the Policy Documents Are Available Online

Just because you make the decision to throw away your old insurance policy documents does not mean that they are gone forever.

There is always going to be the opportunity to get these documents back.

Insurance companies need to abide by record retention standards as well and they are going to have your insurance policy on file for years should you ever really need to have it pulled up again.

You may throw your car insurance policy in paper form out or recycle it, but that certainly does not mean that it has completely disappeared.

The opportunity to bring this documentation back is always going to be present thanks to the growth of virtual retention of documentation by insurance carriers.

The Policy Expiration Date

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You definitely want to keep an insurance document around for at least the time in which your policy is going to be in force. Look at your car insurance policy and see when the effective period truly is.

If your policy is currently still in effect, this is a document that you probably want to have handy.

Even as it nears its expiration, you may want to have the policy to quickly be able to compare renewal quotes and such that you are receiving from your carrier to see how the costs stack up with what you were paying in your prior policy.

Knowing when to purge documents that you simply do not need anymore is important for all. It frees us up from getting bogged down with information and papers that we just don’t need, making the important stuff that much easier to track and find when necessary.

When it comes to insurance documents, know your accident history, your policy effective period, and what your carrier has in terms of record retention and you will be in good shape to dispose of your old documents when you are ready.

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