en English
en Englishes Spanish
TBSS logo

understanding what documents you need to keep, what you can toss, and how to get rid them.

Published: July 20, 2021

Category: Educational

On the last day of school, children are thrilled to throw away or burn any homework they kept during the school year. In fact, some colleges used to host rituals in which graduating seniors would burn all of their class notes. It meant that their papers were no longer important and no longer needed.

However, as you get older, it’s harder to throw away papers and documents that you once needed. This is because you’re unsure about whether you will need them again in the future. This is especially applicable to outdated insurance or financial policies that you no longer refer to.

If you have just switched insurance policies with an agent, you are probably wondering what you need to keep and what is safe to throw away. You may even be asking yourself what should be done if you do decide to get rid of them. Is it something you should think about?

This article is designed to help guide you in understanding what documents you need to keep, what you can toss, and how to get rid of the documents you decide you no longer need to have.


What you need to keep

Before we get into what you should retain, let’s first address that yes, many things are digital, and we’re only going to continue further into this online era. This means that, overall, there is less of a demand for physical copies of documents because — depending on what it is – an online copy exists.


However, if you best organize with physical copies, keep the important ones on file and toss what you know you’ll never need. And, still, you shouldn’t toss everything. You should generally keep any outdated policy that has underlying cash value or an investment opportunity. You should also keep every insurance document for at least six years after your policy has been canceled so that you can protect yourself down the line.


You also need to keep:

  • The basics. These include, in no particular order: wills, marriage certificates, military records, passports, birth certificates, death certificates, Social Security cards, and more. These are things that pertain to your identity, as well as your way of life, so you must note that these are documents that you should never get rid of. Doing so could result in many obstacles for you to overcome. For example, without your birth certificate, it would be hard to determine citizenship.
  • Occurrence basis insurance(s). This policy protects you for any accident or situation during its cover period, even if it’s a couple of years old and never looked at.
  • Copies of policies that continue until cancellation. For example, life and health insurance. No matter how much time has changed, it’s important not to get rid of these. Even if you’re unhappy with your current plan, there’s always room for adjustments. Use The Best Senior Services to be connected with a specialist that will help guide you with the right steps toward updating your plan if you see that your important policies aren’t living up to your expectations.
  • Loan records. Keep all records of loans – whether it be auto loans, mortgages, or anything else – so that you have proof on file that your loan has been paid off or is actively being paid off.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance. This is one of the most important documents you need to keep. Why? Because what you might have been exposed to at a previous company may develop years later. If you had a long and successful career as a welder. For this employment alone, there are several health effects that you could endure long-term, including lung damage, cancer, Parkinsonian syndrome, and more. Even if you retired over a decade ago, you need to keep this document for an unlimited amount of time, because these companies are responsible for your exposure.


As you gather a better understanding of the policies you should hold onto, let’s get into the insurance documents that you will no longer need.


Documents to get rid of

Of course, as you consider the documents you no longer need, you have to first answer if they are outdated documents. You should never throw away documents that are still in use.


However, outdated insurance policies that are safe to get rid of include:


  • Old auto insurance policies. As long as you have received your new and current auto insurance document, and you have successfully closed out of your old one, this is something that is safe to throw away.
  • If you purchased a phone, computer, or any type of technology a while ago, it’s possible that it came with warranties. Typically, the warranty over your purchase will only cover you for a year. Once that year is up, you no longer need a document of that warranty.
  • Pay stubs. Nowadays, most people are paid with direct deposits that go straight from their employer and into their bank account. However, if you are still receiving physical pay stubs, you will want to discard of them as soon as the money hits your account.
  • Paid medical bills. Even after these are paid, you need to hold onto them for at least one year. This is in case you are ever asked for proof of payment. Otherwise, after the one year has passed, it’s safe for you to get rid of them.
  • Monthly bills. You can toss your monthly bills after you have already paid for them or the payments have already been credited to your bank statement. That’s because the company who is billing you will keep your payments on record. Otherwise, your banking institution will be able to provide you with the bill payment with your online account.


The next thing to address is whether they are currently relevant to you, and whether they will be in the long-term. Even if they are meaningless to you at the moment, they could hold significant value in the future. If you are still debating whether to get rid of a document, you need to:


  • Ensure this is a policy or document you will not need in any future sense.
  • Talk with a specialist to ensure that what you are trying to get rid of is, in fact, something you can toss. Nothing is worse than throwing away an important document that you’ll need down the line. To determine whether something is irrelevant enough to be discarded, ask:
    • Is this a policy that I am still covered under?
    • Has anything significant happened to me or my loved ones during the time this policy offered coverage?
    • Do I think I will need to reference this policy after I have properly discarded of it?
  • Mark out any important information that could lead to identify theft.
  • This won’t be enough to combat identity theft on its own, but it offers an extra layer of protection in case someone tries to claim your name or document. With a black pen, mark out any information that could help someone figure out who you are. This includes:
    • Name
    • DOB
    • Address
    • Policy name
    • Social Security number
  • Shred your old policy or document.
  • Again, this is more for the safety element than anything else. Although you’ve marked out important information, that may not be enough to stop someone from attempting to steal your identity. If you don’t already have one, purchase a paper shredder and toss your papers into it. Shred all of your old insurance policies or documents that you are confident that you no longer want before recycling the scraps you are left with. You can also burn your old policies in a well-contained fire. These are the most effective ways to ensure no one will get a hold of anything.

Deciding what is important enough to keep, and what can go, is a hard and frustrating process. You often feel as though you have too many things to keep track of, or you don’t have enough. This article is designed for you to reference in case you ever wonder what you should do if you’re torn between the two options. And, of course, if you are still worried that getting rid of a document will cause you a headache in the future, you can always keep it somewhere safe for another time. There’s no shame in that!

If you have any further questions, visit The Best Senior Services. TBSS works with you to ensure you’re educated insurance and other financial services. We love helping you or your loved ones make not only the best decision, because putting you in the right hands is important. That’s why we connect you with a licensed professional who specializes in answering your questions and leading you in the right direction. You can contact us today by visiting our website or calling us at 855.979.8277.