Idaho First State to Allow Electronic Proof of Insurance

New legislation permitting smartphones as a way of proving insurance coverage to law enforcement and state officials was finalized Tuesday in Idaho, making it the first state in the U.S. to enact such a law.

SB 1319 was signed by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter after an easy road through the state Congress, where it was passed by 33-0-1 and 64-1-5 votes in the Senate and House, respectively. The new law takes effect July 1.

The law’s language allows “display of electronic images on a cellular phone or any other type of portable electronic device,” meaning mobile devices that can show PDF and similar formats are now a legal and paperless way to show that a motorist has a policy.

Kenton Brine, assistant vice president of advocacy group Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), said in a statement that the new law shows “electronic proof of coverage is the wave of the future.”

And how much is car insurance worth when you don’t have a way to prove your policy? Electronic means will improve the ways motorists can show proof of coverage in Idaho when drivers get into accidents, are stopped by police or go to renew registration, but several other states are not far behind.

Similar legislation and regulations are at various stages in a handful of other states:

  • Alabama: A regulation will go into effect Jan. 1, 2013, allowing paperless proof of insurance both at registration and during traffic stops, according to PCI.
  • Arizona: HB 2677 allows paperless forms of proof and was approved by the state Legislature earlier this month. It is awaiting Gov. Jan Brewer’s signature.
  • Colorado: Electronic proof of coverage is allowed during the vehicle registration process.
  • California: A bill was introduced to the state Assembly in February permitting drivers to provide proof of insurance through mobile electronic devices.

“A number of carriers already offer this option, and we are hopeful this change in the law will substantially cut down on the issuance of erroneous tickets,” PCI director of personal lines policy Alex Hageli said in a statement, referring to tickets issued to drivers who simply misplace or fail to update hard copy identification that proves coverage.

Legislators in the Gem State also recently approved creation of an online database that verifies insurance information; it is expected to begin operation by January 2014. A measure to set up a similar database in Mississippi stalled during the legislative process earlier in March.

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for 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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