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Organizing Insurance Policies And Records

As Published In Smead Organomics
Organizing Insurance Policies And Records

Publicity -- Smead Organomics

Insurance is a crucial part of modern life. Your stuff, your well-being, and your loved ones all need protecting against the unexpected. The good news is that (aside from claims), most policies don’t generate a huge amount of paperwork — but you still need a solid system for keeping it all organized.

A General Rule Of Thumb

All of your original policies (regardless of the type of insurance) should be stored in a safety deposit box or fire safe. You may certainly keep copies in your everyday files for quick reference — but the originals require a higher level of protection. Just be sure to let anyone who would need access to these policies (should something happen to you) know where they are stored.

Beyond the policies themselves, create individual folders for each claim — and put the monthly/quarterly/annual premium bill in your “paid bills” folder, to be cleaned out at the end of each year.

Health Insurance Records

If you’re like most people, you get a pile of paperwork from your insurance company every time you have a doctor visit — explanation of benefits, a bill from the medical office, notices from your supplemental insurance programs, etc. But what they all boil down to is determining who pays for what. With that in mind, there are only four reasons to keep heath insurance records for more than the current tax year:

  • because you are in the middle of filing a claim
  • because you have a dispute over a bill
  • because you take a medical tax deduction
  • because you need to prove that you have met your deductible for the year

Set up one folder labeled “current claims” for those items still in process. Clip all the documents relating to a procedure or visit together as they arrive in the mail, and store them in this file until you have heard from all parties involved and gotten your final bill — this way you can review everything at once to make sure there are no mistakes or miscalculations. If you are satisfied with the final result, pay the bill and file the stack in your permanent “completed claims” folder. If you have a question or concern, move the stack to your “claims to dispute” file, to be dealt with accordingly. Separating your paperwork according to the stage of the process prevents confusion about what has been paid and what hasn’t.

Medical Deductions

If you rack up enough out-of-pocket medical expenses to warrant a tax deduction, you will need to include your claim records and medical bills with your supporting tax documents for that year. (These files will be kept for six years, in case you are audited by the IRS.) If you do not, any completed claims can be purged from your files in January, when your deductible calculation starts over for the new year.

Life Insurance

These days many of us have multiple life insurance policies. We might have one through work, a couple of private term life policies, some life insurance annuities, and even those “freebie” accidental death and dismemberment plans that come with your credit card or bank accounts. The easiest way to organize these is to simply place all of your policies in one “life insurance” file and store it in your safe deposit box or fire safe. You can put the annual premium payment notice in your “paid bills” file.

Property Insurance

You may have your property insurance policies (car, home, umbrella, etc.) with several different companies. Unless there is a strong reason for doing this, it is better to consolidate them all under one provider. Not only will you receive better rates, but your paperwork will be drastically reduced. Your company may even lump all of your policies together in one document each year. Be sure to keep your original policy, the current year’s amendments, and any claim information in your safe deposit box. Again, the premium payment notice is stored in your “paid bills” file.

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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One Response

  1. June 2015 there’s an app for that! will allow you to upload all policy info and ID cards for all types of insurance to your Smart phone, tablet or laptop. With one annual subscription the entire family can share doctor info, Rx info, emergency assistance and lots more.

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