Calif. Senate Committee OKs Electronic Insurance Proof Bill

California’s Senate Insurance Committee approved legislation to allow drivers to use smartphones to prove to authorities that they have coverage, leaving few remaining steps before the bill clears the entire Legislature and heads to Gov. Jerry Brown for finalization.

Senate committee members passed AB 1708 in a 9-0 vote Thursday as part of its consent calendar, a compilation of non-contentious legislation marked for passage. It now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

AB 1708 has enjoyed completely unanimous support from lawmakers so far. It also passed speedily through the state Assembly, gaining a 73-0 vote on the Assembly floor on May 10, a 17-0 vote in the Appropriations Committee on May 2 and 13-0 vote in the Insurance Committee on April 18.

Three other states—Idaho, Louisiana and Arizona—have enacted electronic proof bills this year, with each piece of legislation seeing robust backing from lawmakers.

Under such laws legalizing electronic proof of coverage, a motorist can retrieve online auto insurance quotes or from an agent, get a policy, then scan their policy documents to be uploaded onto their smartphone and shown to authorities when asked. Many major insurers already provide convenient electronic formats of policies that can be displayed on phones without the need for documents to be scanned.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), who introduced the California bill, said he believes the bill would be a “step toward greater convenience for motorists.”

“In many cases, the law and government services have not kept up with new technology,” Gatto stated in the committee’s analysis of the bill, released Monday.

The bill has also seen solid industry support. The Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC) called AB 1708 “the wave of the future,” while its parent organization, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) stood behind all the electronic proof bills passed this year.

“We live in a technology-driven world where smartphones are everywhere and people can do just about anything on a phone with the click of a button,” ACIC said in a June statement supporting the legislation. “AB 1708 is a reasonable and practical approach to accommodate new practices brought about by the rapidly changing electronic technology environment.”

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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