Texas Bill Advances as Electronic Proof Laws Develop Nationwide

The push in Texas to legitimize electronic proof of car insurance coverage is moving ahead as other states await their own efforts to become law.

SB 181 was approved by a 31-0 vote from senators last week; it is now in the state House for further consideration.

During its journey through the Texas Legislature, SB 181 has enjoyed strong support from the industry and lawmakers.

The Texas Coalition for Affordable Insurance Solutions, which counts Allstate and State Farm among its members, said such a proposal would give both consumers and insurers the “flexibility” to prove they have valid Texas coverage in a more convenient way than the standard hard-copy ID card.

“If you can use your smartphone to get through airport security and board an airplance, and video chat with loved ones across the country, why can’t you use that same phone to prove you have auto insurance?” the group said in a statement.

Currently, 11 states in the U.S. have active laws allowing electronic proof of coverage.

Last year, five states approved such laws:
–Arizona
–Idaho
–California
–Louisiana
–Minnesota
–Alabama (electronic proof was authorized through regulations and not a piece of legislation)

This year so far, another five states have approved similar laws:
–Arkansas
–Kentucky
–Mississippi
–Wyoming
–Colorado

According to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), which has termed the proposals “e-card” legislation, governors in Indiana and Kansas should sign off on e-card bills that are awaiting final decision there.

Meanwhile, dozens of e-card proposals in other states are advancing through various stages of the legislative process and embody a sea change in the industry, according to Alex Hageli, PCI’s director of personal lines policy.

“Insurers are finding new ways to utilize technology to provide consumers with accessible information when and where they need it,” he said in a statement.

PCI: Companies ‘Embracing’ Digitization in Industry

PCI also outlined other legislative proposals that it said show that insurers are “embracing digital communication platforms” to serve their customers.

The advent of smartphones and their expansive capabilities, PCI said, marks a need for lawmakers to update insurance laws. Responding to that need, several states are considering “e-delivery” legislation permitting insurers to send important documents to policyholders by electronic means instead of the mail system, according to PCI.

In California, SB 251 would allow insurers to email renewal documents to policyholders who sign up for the service.

A similar measure in Idaho, HB 232, saw full approval after Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter signed it into law last week.

“Insurance customers, especially Gen Y policyholders, expect to interact with their insurer through not only their insurance agent, but also through websites, social media, emails and text messages,” Kelly Campbell, PCI vice president for state affairs, said in a statement. ”As more insurance business is conducted online, there is a growing demand for documents associated with those purchases to be electronically delivered.”

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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