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What car documents to keep in your car?

car glove box

It’s great that the digital age has made us much less dependent on paperwork. Today our phones act as a glove box for many important documents that we don’t need to keep in paper form.

The right kind of vehicle service contract, also known as an extended car warranty, for example, will give you access to all your coverage details 100% online.

However there is some paperwork you’re still going to want to carry in your car as physical copies. Here are the 5 things every driver should keep in their glovebox.

1. Car registration

Every car and truck must be registered for it to be driveable on U.S. roads. To register a car, you’ll likely have to show a title, bill of sale, car insurance and smog check.

Every state has different fees related to car registrations.When you register a car, you’re issued a registration certificate and license plates. If you’re ever stopped by a police officer, you will be asked to show your car’s registration.

Can you use a digital version of a car’s registration?
Some states have made it possible for you to show a digital version of your car registration, but it’s not available in all states. Even if it’s available to you, it’s a good idea to keep a paper copy of your registration in case you lose signal or your phone has a dead battery. 
With a digital version, you may have to let the police officer take your phone with them to check your record in the police car. To be safe and have more privacy, it’s best to keep a physical copy in your glove box.

Did you buy a new car and are considering protecting it from repairs? Read our blog: Red flags of a bad extended car warranty.

2. Proof of insurance

Most states have a requirement for minimum liability insurance in case you cause an accident. This means that to legally drive, you must show that you will take financial responsibility if something happens on a public road.

When you buy insurance, you’ll receive a document that proves you have a current and valid car insurance policy under your name and that it meets the liability requirements in your state.

Can you use a digital version of proof of car insurance?
You can generally show digital proof of car insurance to a police officer (it’s allowed in 49 states and the District of Columbia), but not every insurance provider has a digital mobile app and some may just send the document to you by regular mail.
Even if your insurance provider issues digital proof, you may not have signal on the road. Like the car registration, you may also have to let the police officer take your phone with them to check your record in the police car. To be safe and have more privacy, it’s best to keep a physical copy in your glove box.

3. Driver’s license

Your driver’s license is essential in your wallet. You should not only keep it on you at all times when driving but also keep a copy of it in your car. In most states, you’re likely to get a citation for not having a driver’s license in your possession, even if the police officer can find your information in the system by asking your name and address.

The citation can be dismissed in court, but it’s still a waste of time to go down there and deal with it.

4. Medical information

When an emergency happens, medical service providers should be able to have access to important information regarding your health. If you’re allergic to anything or have a very specific health condition and can’t communicate this information due to an accident, keeping those records in your car can be lifesaving.

Be sure that your important health information is up-to-date, accurate and easy for a police officer or medical professional to find. Your glove box is the place where police officers or medical professionals will look.

5. Emergency contact information

When an emergency happens, you will also want to keep a piece of paper with important contact numbers and information. If you’re unable to respond to questions, this information should give the police officers enough guidance to contact your family members or your partner. Some information to include is:

  • Name, phone number and address of your emergency contact
  • Your current address
  • Your cell phone password/passcode
  • Your family doctor
  • Your health insurance provider and policy number

DON’T keep your car title in the car

Your car title will have information about your car like the make, model and year, the car’s VIN number and the odometer reading when you bought the car.

You should keep your car title stored at home in a safe place, like a home safe or a safety deposit box. You don’t want to keep your title in the car. If your car gets stolen, the thief will be able to easily sell the car. 

If this happens, you will have to contact the police department as soon as possible, and it will be a nightmare to deal with, in general.

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