Digital insurance

Do you ever misplace your auto insurance card? Well, you're not alone. That sinking, panicky feeling strikes most drivers when in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles or when pulled over by the police. What do you do? What excuse do you give? Will you have to pay a fine just for your forgetfulness?

Luckily, more insurance companies and state governments have caught on to this trend and they now accept digital proof of auto insurance that motorists can display on their smartphone or tablet.

Latest states to accept
After new laws went into effect this spring, West Virginia, New Jersey and Ohio are three of the latest states to approve the use of digital documents. There were 40 states that accepted electronic proof before West Virginia enacted its law, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

The pace at which states are accepting electronic proof is increasing every year. Just three years ago, only seven states allowed digital proof of insurance, according to the PCIAA.

"It's exactly the same looking as a paper certificate," Delegate Steve Westfall told West Virginia MetroNews, adding that the digital cards will be a boon to everyone. "It's the exact same thing. All the numbers are there, everything you need to get your license or to show the officer you do have insurance."

Use of the digital cards will also cut down on wasted time - from drivers not receiving tickets for a misplaced card to police and courts being able to cut down on unnecessary court costs and paperwork. According to Westfall, drivers will no longer have to spend hours waiting in traffic court because of a no proof of insurance ticket and judges will no longer spend their time throwing those tickets out.

Digital advocacy
Meanwhile, insurance groups such as the PCIAA are pushing for more states to embrace the digital versions.

"It makes good sense to allow consumers and insurers to use increasingly ubiquitous technology to comply with the law," said Alex Hageli, director of personal lines policy for the PCIAA.

The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of New Jersey also praised their lawmakers for passing the new measure.

"This new law will modernize the process of providing evidence of auto insurance coverage in an environmentally-friendly way that keeps up with consumer demands for greater electronic communication and interactions," said Frank Jones, Chairman of IIABNJ.

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