Congratulations, you have a life insurance policy. (Or, if you don’t, we can help with that.) Now here’s a question: Where do you store your life insurance documents?
If you’re like a lot of people, you probably have them tucked away in a folder or a drawer somewhere. Suffice it to say that’s… less than ideal. Those documents will be essential if and when you pass away while covered by the policy, so you want to make sure you know where they are, and that your beneficiaries do, too.
To break it down in more detail, here’s what you need to know about storing your life insurance documents.
In this article:
The importance of keeping your life insurance documents safe
A life insurance policy is one of the best gifts you can offer your loved ones. Knowing that they’re financially protected, even if they don’t have your presence to guide and support them, gives you (and them) peace of mind.
However, if your family can’t find your life insurance documents after you die, it can cause unnecessary stress. An insurer is required by law to attempt to contact beneficiaries after an insured person dies, but having those documents on hand will make things simpler and easier (not to mention faster) for your loved ones at a time when things will already be busy enough.
Make things much easier for your loved ones by storing your life insurance documents safely and securely. If something happens, they’ll know exactly where to find the information they need.
How to keep your life insurance documents organized: 5 tips
Organizing your life insurance documentation might sound overwhelming, but taking the time to store your policy paperwork safely will be hugely beneficial to your family later on. Here are five tips to get you started.
1. Gather all your life insurance documents
Your first step is to gather all your life insurance documents. Most policies include a summary statement of death benefits, which lists your policy number and your coverage amount. The summary page will also list the length of your coverage term, the date when you initiated the policy, and your beneficiaries.
Your documents should also contain the life insurance policy details. The details of a life insurance policy, including terms and conditions, can extend for several pages. While reading the terms and conditions probably doesn’t sound fun, you’ll want to include them in your documentation. If there are any other papers pertaining to your coverage, like monthly statements showing your life insurance premiums and payments, keep them too.
Some people have multiple life insurance policies. For instance, you might have an employer-sponsored policy and a separate plan you purchased yourself. Make sure you gather the documents for every life insurance policy you currently own.
And because it’s the 21st century, it’s worth gathering your documents both physically and digitally. If your primary copies are physical, make time to scan them. If your primary copies are digital, make time to print them. More on that below.
2. Designate a physical storage location
Next, you’ll want to designate a central storage location for your physical life insurance documents. The central storage location will house the original copies of all your papers. A fireproof safe is a great option. Fireproof safes are inexpensive, and like their name suggests, they’ll keep your documents safe and secure — even during a fire.
Although your fireproof safe will serve as your central storage location, it’s also a good idea to save copies of your documents in another place. You can consider a safety deposit box at a bank, for example, or another safe at your office. That way, if your fireproof safe is stolen or damaged during a disaster, you’ll know you can still access your documents when you need to.
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3. Designate a digital storage location
Aside from the physical copies of your life insurance documents, it’s smart to have digital versions too. A digital version is accessible whenever you need it, wherever you might be. If something happens to your fireproof safe, you can pull up your digital documents without missing a beat.
Given the importance and sensitivity of these documents, you should treat them much the way you would your physical documents. That is, you don’t want to throw them in a random folder on your desktop and forget about them. Instead, consider storing them securely on a secure hard drive (which you can also store in that fireproof safe) and in an encrypted destination in the cloud.
For example, eligible Haven Term policyholders enjoy access to the Haven Life Plus rider (think: bonus feature), which offers no- and low-cost access to a range of services that can help you while you’re still living. Among them: A no-cost subscription to LifeSite for you and up to five family members. LifeSite offers military-grade encryption, so you can securely upload, store and share your most important documents. Think of it as a virtual safety deposit box.
4. Document your documents (and tell your family where they are)
Life insurance documents can be lengthy and confusing, especially to people who are unfamiliar with your policy. Categorize your life insurance documents to prevent confusion among your loved ones.
Start by creating a comprehensive inventory of all your life insurance policies, if you have more than one. When your beneficiaries review it, they should find a list of your policies and the documents required for life insurance claims. List each type of life insurance policy you own and who provides the coverage. You should also include key information like the policy number, the insurance agent’s contact information (if relevant), and the coverage amount.
Then, discuss your life insurance situation with your loved ones, or any other beneficiaries (such as a charitable organization). During the conversation, tell them where they can find your life insurance documents if they need to. If you keep the documents in a fireproof safe, provide your loved ones with a key. You can also give them the details needed to access online copies of your documents.
No one wants to hunt down paperwork, especially if they’re unfamiliar with your coverage. By sharing where everything is located ahead of time, you ensure your loved ones can easily access the documents if the time comes.
Your survivors will also want to know how much coverage you have, as the money can be used for things such as paying for college, supplementing their Social Security retirement income, or paying off debt. Knowing what to expect from your policies can help them feel better about their long-term financial situation.
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5. Regularly review your documents to ensure they’re up to date
Chances are that your life insurance situation will change over your lifetime. A term life insurance policy might end; or you might have children who turn 18, and you want to add them as a beneficiary. It’s essential to keep your policy documents up to date for yourself and your loved ones.
It’s a good practice to review your documents at least once a year. Perhaps you can check them when you file your yearly taxes. Picking a specific date (and sticking with it) ensures you won’t overlook anything important.
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.
Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.
Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.
MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.
Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus
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