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 insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Aug 12, 2021

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Key takeaways...

  • You should always save your current insurance papers so you can reference them when you need to verify coverage
  • Keep your current declarations page and endorsements to your policy until the term ends and you get a renewal
  • If you file a claim, you should keep all claims-related mailers until it is completely settled and you’ve been paid
  • It’s easier for some policyholders to keep their documents saved in the form of an electronic file
  • You don’t need the papers for years. Most finance experts say to discard the papers after you switch companies or when you get new documents at renewal.

Keeping organized financial records is a must. While it’s your duty as a responsible adult to retain your records, you should never keep financial documents longer than you have to.

If you file away all of the invoices and statements that you receive in the mail, it’s easy to go from organized to disorganized rather quickly.

While some of the documents that you receive should stay filed away for close to a decade, there’s no need to keep every mailer that your insurer sends you.

There are documents that you can discard of and others that you should hold onto for at least a year. For example, you should keep insurance records while they’re active. Some people also choose to keep their first set of cards when they start coverage with a new carrier to prove the length of time they’ve been with the same carrier. Some experts recommend keeping proof you paid your traffic tickets for a few years. Unfortunately, if your payment is not filed correctly, the state can come back later on to pursue you for a second payment. It could even result in a warrant being out for your arrest.

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If you’re not sure which documents can go in the shredder, here’s a guide to help:

Sifting Through All of the Documents You’ll Receive


When you sign up for auto insurance, you’re bombarded by mailers. Not only do you get invoices and receipts in the mail, you’ll also get different disclosures, notices, and policy booklets.

Some of the paperwork is useful and other elements are sent because the Department of Insurance requires it.

As you start to open up your new policy mailers, it can be overwhelming. You want to hold onto anything that’s important but you don’t want to overflow your filing cabinet with some of the meaningless paperwork that you’ll never need to reference.

Here’s a list of some of the items that you can expect to receive when you start or renew a policy:

  • Declarations page policy document that shows your policy number, policy period, policyholder information, vehicle information, policy rating information, driver information, coverage information, and final rate for each coverage
  • Auto insurance ID cards these include basic policy information. It must be kept in your vehicle at all times.
  • Billing statement if you set up automatic payments or a payment plan, you’ll receive a billing schedule in the mail
  • Coverage rejections forms in states where some coverage options can be rejected, you’ll have to sign a rejection form and send it in
  • Personal Auto Policy (PAP) booklet this is the contract with all of the terms and conditions that you and the insurer must comply with
  • State-mandated disclosures and privacy statements the insurance company must disclose what personal information is used and how you can access your report so that your privacy isn’t violated

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What documents should you keep and for how long?

Not all of the documents need to be filed away. If you receive advertisements or you’re not interested in running your own reports, you can discard these mailers and disclosures.

You can also discard old policy ID cards as soon as the term expires and rejection forms you’re sent if you’re not interested in rejecting a required coverage.

The real question is how long you should keep the vital documents like your declarations page and your Personal Auto Policy booklet.

If you ask any experts, they’ll tell you to keep your PAP contract booklet for as long as you’re with the insurer.

Since the declarations page is only really valid until the term ends, you can shred it soon after you have a new policy in place or after your policy has renewed.

Are There Situations in Which You Should Keep Documents for Longer?


Before you rush to clean out all of your drawers and cabinets, there are a few reasons why you might want to save certain papers or scan them so that you can save them electronically. Just as you would your tax return, you may want to keep a folder with your monthly statement or medical records associated with any accident you’ve been in. Unfortunately, these can come back to haunt you in unexpected ways.

If you have even a small claim, you should definitely hold onto your documents until everything is settled. Even if you think your case is clear cut, you don’t want to be caught without key financial statements and other documents if questions come up.

Being a pack rat can make life more stressful. While retaining all of your mail in your records isn’t realistic, you do need to keep some of your documents. Insurance paperwork can be discarded shortly after the policy has ended in most cases.

Before you throw away papers, use your declarations page to shop around. Enter your coverage information, compare quotes online, and you can find a more affordable car insurance policy.