How long do I have to keep insurance records?

Written by stephen hicks
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How long do I have to keep insurance records?
Know what to keep and what to shred. (papers image by Dmitry Nikolaev from Fotolia.com)

There are no laws which dictate how long you must keep your insurance records, but hanging onto them is helpful for circumstances such as applying for additional insurance, medical issues, IRS audits or filing late claims. Different types of papers have different levels of importance. Retain your paperwork as long as necessary based on its potential future uses.

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Life Insurance Policies

Permanent life insurance policies such as whole life or universal life contracts should be retained as long as the policy is in force or until the claim is settled after your death. Once the claim is paid there is no longer a need for the policy, and if you cancel the policy with no intention of reinstatement you can shred it. Term life insurance policies should be kept until the policy term expires.

Other Insurance Policies

Other insurance policies such as those for your car or home should be kept at least as long as the policy is in force so you can reference its terms, conditions and exclusions in the event of a claim. Insurance companies often allow you to make a claim retroactively within a certain time period, so retain the policy for another two to seven years in case you must do this.

Medical Claims

Medical claims paperwork as well as medical bills should be retained for one to three years in case disputes arise with the insurance company. You also may need them as part of the underwriting process if you are applying for additional medical or life insurance during this time.

Taxable Insurance Claims

Though not common, some insurance settlements are subject to taxation. This occurs when you receive a settlement amount which causes you to profit, such as a life insurance payment exceeding the policy amount. If you must pay taxes on any portion of your settlement, file the claims paperwork with that year's tax paperwork and retain for seven years.

Property Claims

Keep claims paperwork for your car, home and other valuable assets as long as you own the item. Potential buyers will want to know the history of the item so the transaction is likely to be smoother if you can provide the relevant paperwork.

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