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More States Weigh Digital Car Insurance Cards

reprinted from the NY Time blog “Bucks”by Ann Carrns.

I was stopped a while back by a police officer because the registration sticker on my car’s license plate had expired. After digging my dog-eared insurance card out of my wallet, I realized that it was out of date, too. My policy was current, but I hadn’t put the new card into my wallet when it was mailed to me.

The officer cited me for driving without proof of insurance. The charge was later dropped, when it became clear that I did, in fact, have the appropriate coverage. It would have been handy if I had an app on my smartphone that would let me display my insurance card electronically, just as I can show a boarding pass on my phone to get on an airplane.

As it turns out, many states are changing their laws to allow just that.

Seven states now permit the use of such digital proof of insurance, although details vary, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, a trade group. Alabama, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana and Minnesota allow their use at traffic stops, and at the time of vehicle registration; Colorado allows their use while registering a car and is considering legislation this year that would expand their use to traffic stops.

Meanwhile, at least 21 more state legislatures are currently considering measures to allow use of the cards: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Wyoming’s measure has already cleared the Wyoming State Senate, the association says.

Alex Hageli, director of personal lines policy for the association, said use of electronic identification cards is more convenient for consumers, and can help reduce time spent by courts addressing tickets issued simply because drivers forgot to put the card in their wallets. But until states change their laws and regulations, insurers must still mail out paper cards. “Now is the time to make a small change in the law so insurers and consumers can take advantage of technology and avoid those annoying fix-it tickets,” he said in a statement.

The association supports “flexible” rules allowing use of the digital cards as an option for insurers and consumers.

As more states prepare to allow the digital cards, insurers are adding identification cards to their existing smartphone apps, which allow consumers to conduct various insurance-related tasks. State Farm, for instance, offers digital identification cards via its “Pocket Agent” app (although a caveat warns that the card may not meet requirements in all states), and Geico also offers “digital ID cards” via its mobile app.
Would you use a digital insurance card, if your state allows it?

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