How Long Should You Keep Your Old Car Insurance Documents?
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If you are anything like the average person, you likely have a stack of old documents saved up in some dusty corner of your house. These most likely include receipts, bills, loan details, pay stubs, bank statements, and insurance documents. Eventually, after the stack gets tall enough, you may finally decide to go through it.
Can you throw away your old car insurance documents? Which documents should you hold on to? How long should you keep them? Below, we’re explaining everything you need to know about how long you should keep your old car insurance documents.
Which Documents Do You Need, and Which Documents Can Get Tossed?
When it comes to your auto insurance documents, the answer isn’t so obvious. You probably feel like you need all the paperwork for when things go wrong such as an accident or theft. That may be why you have hundreds of insurance documents piled up over the years.
Or, with the ease of the internet, you might assume – and perhaps justly – that all your insurance documents can be found with the click of a button. Therefore you don’t need any of the documents. In either case, it is important to know which documents you will receive and which of those you should hang on to for a while.
Types of Auto Insurance Documents
When you sign up for auto insurance, there are several key documents you will receive. Some may come through the mail and others may be given to you if you signed up in person.
These may include receipts or invoices, policy updates, company notifications, or disclosures. Many of these documents are actually useful, but others are only sent because of certain requirements established by the Department of Insurance.
Here are some of the documents you can expect to receive:
- Auto insurance ID cards: Insurance ID cards are the cards you must keep in your car at all times. They are wallet-sized and only include the most essential information.
- Billing statement: You may receive a monthly or annual billing statement depending on how you pay. With most payments occurring online nowadays, many of these statements are being sent electronically.
- Declarations page: A car insurance declaration page is the primary policy document that details your policy number and period, coverage information, your personal information, vehicle information, and the policy rating.
- Coverage rejection forms: When certain coverage options are rejected, some states will require a coverage rejection form to be filled out and returned.
- Personal auto policy booklet: This outlines the broader terms and conditions set forth by the insurance provider and agreed up by you, the policyholder.
- State-mandated documents and privacy statements: Each state has different mandates requiring them to report to policyholders about what type of personal information they are accessing and how your privacy is being handled.
These are the documents that come standard with most insurance policies, and they may be the only ones you receive from your provider. However, if you have to file a claim for an auto accident, theft, or other damages, you may have some additional paperwork laying around.
This may include the documentation you provided during the claims filing process: police reports, medical records and bills, witness statements, images/evidence, auto repair details and bills, and policy information.
Then, your insurance provider will deliver either a claims denial or acceptance letter. You may also have any additional correspondence saved up such as communication between you and the provider or claim appeal documents you may have filed.
What Auto Insurance Documents Should You Save?
The short answer is that you don’t need to save too many of the documents. You truly only need your active auto insurance ID cards, declarations page, and any other documents pertaining to your contract. Whenever you purchase new coverage, your old documents can then be tossed.
However, there are some caveats to that. There are certainly times where you will need those old insurance documents even though your coverage has expired or you have switched providers.
Instances where you will need old auto insurance documents include:
- If you have an open claim with a previous insurance provider. Claims can take several weeks or months to settle. During that time it is not uncommon for individuals to switch providers or upgrade their coverage, especially if their old insurance provider has been giving them a hard time.
- If you have a denied claim that you may want to appeal. Again, during the time it took your insurance provider to deny your claim, your policy details may have changed. If you are not happy with the outcome and plan to speak with an auto accident attorney or insurance attorney, hang on to your old documents.
- If you think another driver has a potential claim against you. Perhaps you were the at-fault driver in a collision or you backed into someone’s vehicles. Most states have a statute of limitations regarding auto insurance claims. These are typically a couple of years for both injury and property damage. If you are unsure, it is best to hang on to some of those documents until you have a better idea.
- There may be tax purposes for your insurance premiums. If you use your vehicle for business, you might be able to write off your premiums when you file taxes. If you have written off any insurance expenses, then you should keep those documents for 3 to 7 years along with your tax file.
If none of the above circumstances apply to you, then you are most likely safe to shred any old documents once you have a new policy. You will only need your active insurance documents which include that ID card, declarations page, and terms and conditions.
The internet has made the ability to access your active documents and old documents simple. If you are banking on your insurance provider to have any of your documents saved for you, you should confirm with them before deciding to throw anything away.