Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • Understanding the importance of a car insurance policy as a contract can help determine retention needs
  • Most car insurance companies are going to have a copy of your old policies available online
  • Having a copy of your old policy handy can help you compare prices of last effective period to this one

There are consumers that keep pretty much all documents that they are given and then there are those that cannot wait to throw things away.

What should you be doing as a consumer when you have an old car insurance policy? Is it worth it to you to keep those old paper documents around, or should you be getting rid of them?

As with all documents, it really does depend on several factors that you are going to want to take into consideration.

A car insurance policy document is essentially a contract.

When you purchase that car insurance policy from an insurer, you are contracting with that insurer to give you the coverage dictated in the declarations page of the policy in exchange for the premium calculated based on their insurance rates.

Given that it is a contract, what you need to know is how long that the contract is going to be in effect and at what point you are going to be safe to get rid of the documentation.

Compare car insurance premiums today using our free tool above!

Determining Policy Expiration


One of the first things that you want to take a look at is when the car insurance policy actually expired. Since this is an old car insurance policy, chances are you have already renewed the policy or signed on with a brand new insurer as a new customer.

Next, you want to determine when your policy no longer was in force. Look back at the policy declaration page and see when the policy was effective and when it expired. Then, take a look at today’s date and you are going to see just how old of a policy that this is.

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Accidents to Consider

The single biggest reason that you want to keep a car insurance policy around even after it has expired is if you had a minor accident that you may have had, but chose not to report as a claim.

Say you had a minor fender bender with someone on the road and no damage to the cars were done. The policy in effect has now expired, but the accident took place during the effective period of that old contract.

Now, if the individual files a claim and your car insurance company is sought after for payment for the losses, you may want to know what coverage you had at the time. This is when it can be handy to have that document available.

The truth of the matter is that even for a policy that is in effect, you really do not need to keep the paper copy of the document that you have.

All of your car insurance policies, no matter how old, should be kept online with your insurer. Even if you are no longer a customer of that insurer, calling them up should be a quick way to have a copy of that policy sent to you, whether it be electronically or by mail.

Using it to Compare Premium Prices


There is value in having a copy of an old car insurance policy just for the purpose of comparing what you are paying now to what you were paying then.

Whether you have the copy of the policy in electronic form or in paper form, pulling it out to see how the rates have changed from one policy period to the next can be quite powerful.

This can allow you to check the following:

  • premium prices being charged
  • rates
  • how an accident is impacting your premium

As a consumer, you want to keep important documentation around for as long as necessary in most cases.

When it comes to a car insurance policy, most of this documentation is available online whether the policy is still in effect or not.

It is a best practice to retain an old car insurance policy for a year after the policy has expired, but after that, it is just going to be taking up space in your drawer of documents. Purge away and save yourself space and if necessary, access the documents online.

Make sure to use our free comparison tool today to see how much you could save on car insurance!