In the last two years, there has been an explosion of laws regarding proof of insurance – and this time the changes are something that everyone can cheer about. Over half of the U.S. now allows drivers to show proof of auto insurance on a mobile electronic device, such as a smartphone.
Some states allow a photo of your insurance card, while others want something downloaded from your insurance carrier. Others are not specific.
Many states say that they are not liable for any damages to the electronic device that is handed over to show proof. Many laws also limit law enforcement officers from looking at anything other than the proof of insurance on the device.
Here's a roundup of which states have new laws:
In 2012, only a handful of states allowed electronic proof of auto insurance (some call it e-Card).
Alabama – Effective 6/8/12. Alabama regulations allowed motorists to electronically show proof of insurance at both registration and traffic stops (Administrative Rule 810-5.05, Evidence of insurance requirements). This allows a car owner to provide proof using an electronic image/proof on a cellular phone, laptop or other portable electronic device.
Arizona – Effective 8/2/12. A new law (HB 2677) passed that allowed drivers to show an image of a valid insurance card on a wireless communication device as proof of insurance. However, a person may be required in court to produce a paper insurance identification card.
Idaho – Effective 7/1/12. In lieu of producing a printed insurance card, Idaho passed SB 1319 to allow drivers to provide proof of insurance by electronic means. This can be a cellular phone or other type of portable device.
Louisiana – Effective 8/1/12. Through the passing of HB 1130, drivers in this state are allowed to show either a traditional insurance card or use an electronic version as proof of auto insurance.
Minnesota – Effective 8/1/12. In March 2012, SF 1875 was passed into law to allow auto insurance identification to be provided in an electronic format.
Virginia - Effective 7/1/12. Virginia enacted a very broad electronic delivery law (Statute 38.2-325) that in part says policyholders may obtain a paper or electronic copy of their policy or contract. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) says the state’s department of motor vehicles and law enforcement officers agree this law allows for e-Cards to be used as proof of insurance. The Virginia State Police also told us that section 46.2-902.1 from the Code of Virginia only notes that proof of insurance is required and not the specifics of how it is to be displayed, thus allowing for electronic proof.
In 2013, many more states jumped on the e-Card bandwagon.
Alaska – Effective 7/1/13. Legislature (HB 146) changed a portion of the state statutes to allow for drivers to display proof of motor vehicle liability insurance on a mobile electronic device. The image displayed should show verification from an insurance company, insurance agent, insurance broker or surplus lines broker that there is a policy in effect that complies with state laws.
Arkansas – Effective 8/16/13. Act 175 allows for proof of motor vehicle liability insurance for registration and traffic stops to be presented in either paper or electronic form. The law requires that the cellular phone, or other electronic device, have sufficient capability to display the information as clearly as a paper version of the insurance card. Law officers can’t search other content on the electronic device without a search warrant or probable cause.
California - Effective 1/1/13. Assembly Bill 1708 was signed into law to allow drivers to provide electronic verification of evidence of financial responsibility using a mobile electronic device. It also notes that when a person provides proof using a mobile device that the device’s owner assumes all liability for any damage to the mobile device.
Colorado - Effective 8/7/13 for electronic proof for traffic stops. Regulation has already been in place that allowed for drivers to show proof of insurance electronically for registration purposes. HB 1159 updated state statues to allow that a requesting officer will accept evidence of auto insurance by the presentation of a valid insurance policy or certificate on a cell phone or other electronic device. The officer cannot explore other contents of the device. Also, officers are immune from any civil damages resulting from the dropping or unintentionally damaging the device.
Florida – Effective 7/1/13. The passing of HB 7125 into law authorized the use of electronic media as roadside proof of insurance. Displaying the information in electronic format does not mean that one consents for an officer to access other information on the device. The device owner though does assume liability for any resulting damage to the device. HB 157 also passed and allows for electronic delivery of insurance policies.
Georgia – Effective 5/6/13. HB 254 in Georgia was signed into law and went into effect the same day. It amended the Official Code of Georgia Annotated to allow evidence of required insurance coverage be produced in either paper or electronic form. Acceptable electronic formats include a display of electronic images on a mobile electronic device.
Indiana – Effective 7/1/13. Motorists in Indiana are able to display an electronic image on a telecommunications device as proof of financial responsibility to police officers after an accident or traffic stop (SB 620).
Illinois - Effective 8/23/13. SB 1775 was signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn and went into effect immediately. This law permits drivers to show proof of car insurance through display of an electronic image on a portable electronic device. Displaying an electronic image in this manner doesn't constitute consent for a law enforcement officer, court, or officer of the court to access other contents of the electronic device.
The new Illinois law added in that law enforcement officers, courts, and officers of the court are immune from liability resulting from damage to a mobile electronic device used to present an electronic insurance card.
Iowa – Effective 5/15/13. SF 386 makes it possible for officers in Iowa to accept proof of insurance in electronic form. The image needs to be displayed on a cellular phone or other portable electronic device that has a display screen with touch input or miniature keyboard. The new law also allows insurance companies to issue motor vehicle insurance cards in either paper or electronic format.
Kansas – Effective 7/1/13. The passing of SB 85 amended state law to allow proof of financial security via an image display on a cellular phone or other portable device for registration or when requested by law enforcement after an accident or traffic violation. The person reviewing the proof of insurance on the electronic device is prohibited from viewing other content on it.
Kentucky – Effective 6/25/13. Kentucky now permits motorists to provide proof of insurance in electronic format for registration purposes and when a peace officer requests an insurance card (HB 164). The law requires that the e-Card be an official image downloaded from your insurer or agent onto your mobile device. It must depict a current valid representation of your insurance card. A photographic copy of the paper insurance card shown on a portable device is not acceptable.
The person who presents the mobile device assumes all liability for any damage done to it. Peace officers are only allowed to view the electronic image of the insurance card and nothing else on the device.
When registering a car, a clerk may require the applicant to email the e-Card to the clerk to print a copy for the records.
Maine – Effective 5/7/13. Signed and enacted on the same day, this new law (HP 108) is short and to the point as it allows for evidence of liability insurance be in electronic form, including the display of an image on a portable electronic device.
Mississippi – Effective 7/1/13. SB 2593 allows that the insurance card may be furnished in either paper or electronic format as chosen by the insured. Acceptable electronic formats include display of electronic images on a cellular phone or any other type of electronic device.
Missouri – Effective 8/28/13. HB 322 was signed in early July by the Governor Jay Nixon and permits displaying an image of an insurance card on a mobile electronic device to be an approved method of proving proof of financial responsibility for vehicle registration or when requested by a law enforcement officer.
The law goes on to make it a Class B misdemeanor to knowingly or intentionally produce or distribute fraudulent identification card images on a mobile electronic device.
This law also doesn’t allow an officer to go through other contents on the phone, and the owner accepts liability, except for willful or malicious damage caused by the officer.
It also allows insurance companies to deliver auto policies to the policyholders by electronic means.
North Dakota – Effective 4/18/13. The new law allows drivers stopped for a traffic violation or accident to provide the officer proof of auto insurance written or electronic means (HB 1263).
Oregon – Effective 5/14/13. Electronic devices to display proof of insurance are allowed but don't constitute consent for police officers to access other contents on the phone (HB 2107).
Tennessee – Effective 5/13/13. Tennessee amended its law to find electronic formats acceptable proof of financial responsibility. Acceptable electronic formats include display of electronic images on a cellular phone or other type of portable electronic device. Police aren’t to access other contents on the device (HB 478).
Texas – Effective 5/24/13. The Texas Transportation Code was amended to authorize the use of a wireless communication device to display motor vehicle financial responsibility information as proof of insurance. The bill (SB 181) specifies that the authorization does not prevent a court or the commissioner of insurance from requiring a person to provide a paper copy of the person’s evidence of financial responsibility.
Something not seen with other state laws: Texas establishes that a telecommunications provider cannot be held liable if the device fails to display the financial responsibility information.
Utah – Effective 5/14/13. This new law (HB 295) provides that a person may show evidence of financial security via a hard copy or electronic format using a mobile device. Officers may not view other content on the mobile device; however, the law provides that peace officers aren’t subject to civil liability or criminal penalties if they inadvertently view content other than proof of insurance.
Washington– Effective 7/28/13. Washington updated its laws to provide for proof of motor vehicle insurance to be provided electronically (SB 5095). Officers cannot look at other content and aren’t liable for damage to the portable electronic device. The law also allows for registration certificates to be provided in paper or electronic format.
Wisconsin – Effective 7/5/13 (SB 62) Wisconsin just passed its electronic proof of insurance law. It agrees with other states that officers should not be viewing other content on the mobile device other than the proof required by law to be shown. The bill also updated other sections of law to note that it’s fraudulent to forge electronic proof of insurance or to represent electronic proof of insurance as valid when it is not. The penalty for this is a fine of up to $5,000.
Wyoming - Effective 7/1/13. Wyoming’s new law (SB 87) permits e-Cards as proof of financial responsibility as long as it contains the same information as required by law (and is on the paper version).
And beyond - Ohio, Michigan and South Carolina, are still considering legislature to permit electronic proof.