Beginning yesterday, the Show-Me State joins California, Indiana and 24 other states in allowing drivers to show proof of insurance electronically, through their cell phone, tablet or even laptop.
The insurance lobby has been advocating the “e-card” initiative over the past two years, and so-far 22 states have passed legislation authorizing it. Another five states have added e-card through executive changes to regulatory rules.
In some states, including Missouri, there has been slight resistance from police unions regarding liability concerns. Police wanted to ensure they were indemnified from damage caused to electronic devices dropped while inspecting the proof of insurance. In those cases, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) worked with lawmakers to protect officers against accidental device damage.
In Missouri, “police officers, commercial vehicle enforcement officers and commercial vehicle inspectors are immune from liability for any damage” according to the law, which Gov. Jay Nixon signed off on last month. “except for damages willfully or maliciously caused by the officer or inspector.”
Law enforcement groups in Missouri supported that language, and went on to note that officers may feel more at ease in some situations if drivers weren’t reaching for their glove compartments during traffic stops.
“You don’t know what’s in the glove box,” explained Nicole Mahrt Ganley, PCI public affairs director for the Western region. Ganley said besides potentially offering law enforcement a sense of security, the changes should also help reduce court costs as fewer people will appear for fix-it tickets.
“This is something we have been supporting, but it’s also something that consumers want,” Mahrt Ganley said.
The change is expected to also help save insurance companies money in mailing costs, although the amount is difficult to estimate. Still, Ganley said it will help drivers who forget to put new insurance cards in the car after renewing or switching carriers.
“It’s a commonsense solution, and you can still use paper proof. The option is up to the driver,” she added.