The Documents You Need: Insurance Policies

If you followed my advice from a couple months ago, then you already have your life insuranceauto insurancehealth insurance, and homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies in place. If you don’t, get them now. Use a company like Netquote to arrange your policies. Once they’re in place, you need to keep them somewhere they can be easily accessed during an emergency.

Auto Insurance
Keep a your auto insurance card in your car or your wallet. Each time a new card comes, remove the old ones. It’s not just a neatness thing – if you get pulled over or have an accident, you don’t want to present an expired card or have to sift through a dozen expired cards to find the right one.

Rather than filing the insurance policy and related information in an auto folder along with myriad repair receipts, keep it in an insurance folder in your emergency box. Replace it with the new policy each time you renew or change your policy.

Homeowner’s Insurance or Renter’s Insurance
Your home or rental insurance policies should also be in your emergency box. A disaster, large or small, is exactly when you need the policy, so keeping it in the box ensures that it will leave the house with you.

Each time you receive a policy update, replace the old one in the box. You can also keep a back-up copy in your safe deposit box, but you should keep one copy handy in case you can’t get to the bank when you need it.

Life Insurance
In addition to your primary life insurance policy, you’ve probably got a dozen or so small policies from your employers, credit card companies, and other services. Although each of these policies is only worth $1000 or so, that money could come in handy were something to happen. Instead of stuffing those policies into whatever file is handy when they come, put them in your emergency box with your primary insurance policy. You may also want to give a list of policy names, numbers, and contact information to the executor of your estate or keep it with your will.

Health Insurance
Your health insurance card should be in your wallet at all times. If you travel, keep a photocopy in your suitcase with a copy of your passport. In addition, keep a copy of the card and any back-up policy information in your emergency box. You don’t need to keep the entire policy book, just the basic policy details and contact information. This way you’ll still have the information you need if you forget to take your wallet when you run out of the house with your box.

If you don’t want to keep all of the policies in your emergency box, at the very least keep a copy of the account details pages or a list of all company names, account numbers, and phone numbers. You don’t want to scramble to figure out how to contact your insurance companies in the aftermath of a disaster.

Tomorrow I’ll provide more details on creating your account list in my series on the documents you need in case of an emergency.

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