How long should you keep insurance policies and records?

Determining how long to keep insurance records and other critical documents depends on the type of policy and document. Generally, you should keep most insurance documents for at least as long as the policy is in effect or, if your policy has ended, until any still-open claims are settled. If your policies are related to a business, or you're self-employed, you may need to keep your insurance records for a few years for tax purposes — check with your tax advisor.

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Do you need to keep copies of old insurance policies?

In general, if you don't have any open claims, you don't need to keep old, expired insurance policies.

However, if you have any open claims or have been involved in an incident that may result in a claim, keep all paperwork related to the incident and your policy until the claim is resolved. This includes policy documents, receipts for repairs and medical treatment, and any other claim-related costs. Even if the policy expires before the claim gets resolved — for example, if you're involved in litigation over accident damages — you should keep all related documents until the claim gets settled.

How long to keep homeowners insurance policies

Homeowners policies typically renew annually, so keep all your documentation for at least a year until your new policy starts. Renters insurance periods vary, usually from as little as a few months up to a year. If you make a claim that's still outstanding when your policy ends or renews, keep the policy documents and receipts related to that claim until it's resolved.

How long to keep car insurance documents

You should keep your car insurance documents and policies as long as your policy is active and until all open claims are resolved. Most car insurance policies last six months to one year, and if you have no open claims, you can discard your documents when the policy ends and you get a new one. If your policy ends and you have an open claim, keep your policy documents along with any receipts and bills until the claim is resolved.

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How long to keep old insurance claims paperwork

Regardless of the insurance type, you should keep all old paperwork related to a claim until it's been officially closed, you've received any payment you're entitled to, and the related policy has expired.

What documents should you keep longer, and under what circumstances?

Keep registrations, titles, deeds, and similar documents for at least a year after you own the car, home, or other assets in question. This allows you to reference the documents for tax purposes when you file in the year after you get rid of the asset.

If you're using your insured asset for a business, the IRS recommends keeping your documents for three to seven years, depending on the type of document — but check with your tax advisor to be sure. If you get audited, you'll need to show evidence of your transactions related to that asset. While some insurers may keep electronic copies of your policy documents for you, it's wise to keep your own copies.

What's the best way to keep insurance records?

Keep digital and hard copies of your insurance records in case you need a backup. Hard copies should be kept in a climate-controlled space to reduce mold, fading, and other potential issues. Consider a waterproof case or fire safe to block moisture and protect documents in case of fire. If you're storing your documents digitally, consider both cloud- and drive-based storage methods in case one gets compromised.

What's the best way to dispose of old insurance paperwork?

Old insurance documents and paperwork contain sensitive data that can make it easy for identity thieves to violate your privacy, so avoid placing whole documents in your recycling or trash. Instead, shred documents using a cross-cut shredder (one that shreds in two directions, producing small, confetti-like pieces). Many cities and retailers provide shredding services, or you can buy a home unit.

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