How Long to Keep Car Insurance Documents

Having organized and accessible car insurance documents can save you time and headaches if you ever need to file a claim. But with policy renewals every 6-12 months, the paperwork can pile up fast. So how long should you actually keep your car insurance records before throwing them out?

Which Documents to Keep

Here are the key car insurance documents you should retain:

  • Insurance ID Card – Keep your current ID card in your wallet and prior ID cards until your policy expires. The card proves you have active coverage.

  • Policy Declarations Page – This lists your coverages, limits, vehicle(s), and premium. Keep the most current one until your policy ends.

  • Prior Policies – Once your new policy packets arrive, you can toss old policies. Shred anything with personal information.

  • Billing Statements – Keep at least until you reconcile payments. Check with your accountant if it’s a business policy.

  • Claims Documents – Keep anything related to a claim until it’s 100% closed and you’ve received payment.

How Long to Retain Documents

  • Active Policies – Keep current ID card, declarations page, bills for 6-12 months until policy expires

  • Expired Policies – Toss old policies once new ones are issued, unless you have an open claim

  • Claims – Keep all documents until the claim is fully closed and paid

  • Billing Statements – Keep at least until accounted for. Up to 7 years for businesses.

  • Canceled Checks – Shred after reconciling with bank statement

  • Active policy docs – Keep while valid
  • Expired policies – Toss when replaced
  • Claims – Keep until fully settled
  • Bills – Keep until accounted for
  • Canceled checks – Shred after reconciling

If you accidentally toss something, just request a replacement from your insurer.

Storing Documents Securely

Keep your car insurance paperwork in a safe, dry place like a file cabinet or desk drawer. Avoid damp basements or garages where they could get wet or moldy.

For sensitive information, use a locked fireproof safe or bank safety deposit box. Consider scanning docs or taking photos to back them up digitally.

You can also store files securely online with services like Dropbox or iCloud. Just be sure to password protect them.

Disposing of Documents

When it’s time to dispose of old car insurance documents, protect your privacy and prevent identity theft by shredding the paperwork.

Use a cross-cut shredder, which cuts paper vertically and horizontally into small confetti-like pieces. Or take advantage of free community shredding events.

Just dumping paperwork with personal information in the trash or recycling bin poses a risk of fraud and theft. So shred anything with:

  • Your full name and address
  • Policy numbers
  • Vehicle identification numbers (VINs)
  • Driver’s license number
  • Credit card or bank details

Special Situations

Here are a few other cases to be aware of:

  • Total Loss Claims – If your car is totaled, keep related documents for 3-5 years.

  • Lawsuits – Keep all records indefinitely if you filed or are named in a lawsuit related to the policy.

  • Tax Purposes – Ask your accountant for business policies. You may need to keep documents for up to 7 years for taxes.

  • State Requirements – A few states have laws specifying document retention periods. Check with your state department of insurance.

When In Doubt, Don’t Throw It Out

As a general rule of thumb, if you are unsure whether to keep a certain document, hold onto it for at least a year after your policy expires just to be safe.

The bottom line is keeping your car insurance paperwork organized can give you peace of mind if you ever need to file a claim down the road. Just be sure to securely store and then properly dispose of documents you no longer need.

How Long Do I Need to Keep Auto Insurance Policies? : Auto Insurance FAQs


Is there any reason to keep old insurance policies?

Once you have a new policy in hand, the old one can usually be tossed — 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 car repair and medical care receipts, until the claim has been closed and all payments have been received.

How long must records associated with an insurance policy be kept?

(d) Except as otherwise provided, the records shall be maintained for a minimum period of five years following the actual delivery of the insurance policy or contract to which each pertains, or, if no policy or contract was issued, for a minimum period of five years after the date of the application therefor.

How many years must a US insurance company maintain all necessary records?

(d) Retention of records. An insurance company shall maintain a copy of any SAR filed and the original or business record equivalent of any supporting documentation for a period of five years from the date of filing the SAR.

How long must insurers keep records related to advertisement of insurance policies?

Final answer: The duration insurers must keep records related to insurance policy advertising can differ significantly by jurisdiction, from five years to indefinitely. Legal penalties for non-compliance can be severe, so insurers should consult with knowledgeable legal authorities to clarify exact requirements.

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