Have you ever been pulled over in a traffic stop, fumbled through your glove compartment only to find out you don’t have your proof of insurance card with you? Now you are stuck with a court date or a fix-it ticket even though you did indeed have insurance. There is a simple solution to this inconvenience: show proof of insurance electronically with your smart phone, says the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).
Long before personal computers even existed, states adopted laws and regulations requiring drivers to carry physical insurance identification cards as proof that they had auto insurance. Now, we live in a technology driven world where smart phones are everywhere and people can do just about anything on a phone with the click of a button. In an effort to keep up, policymakers across the country are changing the rules to allow drivers to show proof of insurance electronically.
The Idaho Senate Transportation Committee unanimously approved a measure Thursday (SB 1319) giving drivers the flexibility to show proof of coverage electronically with a smart phone. Similar bills are under consideration in Arizona, California and Mississippi.
“As we move into the 21st century, state legislators and regulators are beginning to update laws to recognize the increasing prevalence of technology by allowing insurers to provide policyholders electronic ID cards. That little piece of paper will still count, but it will no longer be the only option motorists have to show they have auto insurance,” said Alex Hageli, PCI’s director, personal lines policy. “Electronic display of proof of insurance will save insurance companies the cost of printing and mailing ID cards to policyholders. It will also save law enforcement and court personnel time and money because they will no longer need to process tickets written to drivers who had coverage but forgot to put that little piece of paper in the car.”
All states except New Hampshire and Tennessee require drivers to carry liability insurance to cover other drivers in an accident. A report by the Court Statistics Project shows there were more than 56 million traffic violation cases filed in state courts in one year alone. Drivers had to show proof of insurance coverage at each one of those stops.
“Electronic proof of coverage is the wave of the future,” said Kenton Brine, PCI assistant vice president. “Many policyholders are living green and want to go paperless, but without changing the law insurers are still required to send paper ID cards. Legislation like the measures under consideration in Arizona and Idaho are a win-win situation because insurers and customers retain the flexibility to use paper ID cards or use an electronic device. It is all about having choices.”
Nationwide Legislation and Regulations Allowing Electronic Proof of Insurance:
Alabama - Alabama will soon publish a first-of-its-kind regulation allowing motorists to electronically display proof both at registration and during traffic stops starting January 1, 2013.
Arizona – This month the House Transportation Committee unanimously approved HB 2677, authored by Representative Dial, legislation which allows motorists to display proof of insurance electronically. The bill awaits a vote on the House floor.
California – Assemblyman Gatto introduced AB 1708, legislation allowing insurers to provide proof of insurance to a mobile electronic device.
Colorado – An existing Colorado regulation allows motorists to show proof of coverage electronically when they register their vehicles.
Idaho – The Senate Transportation Committee unanimously approved SB 1319 on February 23, 2012. The bill will now move to the Senate floor.
This continues to be a dynamic issue across state legislatures, Mississippi and Maryland may also consider legislation to allow electronic proof of coverage in 2012.
PCI is composed of more than 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross-section of insurers of any national trade association. PCI members write over $180 billion in annual premium, 38.3 percent of the nation’s property casualty insurance. Member companies write 44.3 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 31.6 percent of the homeowners market, 36.3 percent of the commercial property and liability market, and 42.6 percent of the private workers compensation market.