From the end of August 2013, the “Show-Me” state of Missouri has become the most recent state to allow drivers to show proof of their auto insurance electronically. In addition to Missouri, there are now 26 other states which have active laws allowing drivers to offer insurance proof through their cell phone, smartphone, tablet computer or even laptop computer.
E-card initiative growing in popularity
Over the last two years, there have been clamors from the insurance lobby to make passage for the “e-card” initiative to allow for electronic proof of auto insurance. The initiative has been successful in advocating change, resulting in 22 states to date passing authorizing legislation and another 5 states adding e-card capabilities through various executive changes to state regulatory rules.
Property protection for electronic devices
Missouri and some other states have experiences some resistance from police unions that have concerns about liability should a consumer’s electronic device be dropped and damaged or broken during inspection. The police in certain states wanted to ensure that they were indemnified in these instances. As such, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) worked with lawmakers to draft protections in order to provide the necessary coverage. In Missouri, this means that:
- “Police officers, commercial vehicle enforcement officers and commercial vehicle inspectors are immune from liability for any damage” according to the law “except for damages willfully or maliciously caused by the officer or inspector.”
Electronic law gives more peace of mind for law enforcement
Law enforcement groups in Missouri also spoke of their relief at the new electronic auto insurance law, as it would help officers feel more at ease in certain situations where drivers did not have to reach inside their glove compartments during traffic stops.
E-card will help reduce court costs, mailing costs
It is also expected that the e-card will help to reduce court costs as fewer drivers will be summoned to court to appear for fix-it tickets. Insurance companies will also save money on mailing costs and it will help drivers that forget to display new insurance cards in their windows after renewing or switching insurance carriers.
Paper proof still valid
If a driver prefers, they can still use paper proof if they do not have an electronic device. The choice is down to the driver to decide – paper or electronic proof; whichever is most convenient for them.
E-card may lead to cheaper auto insurance
It is anticipated that e-cards will help to lower auto insurance costs overall, although the precise amount cannot be estimated yet. If insurance companies pass the savings onto consumers, it could mean greater savings for drivers.
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