Auto Insurance: There’s An App For That!

Do you live on the leading edge of technology?  Do you have a cell phone in one hand, a tablet in the other and pick up on all things digital? Have we got an opportunity for you. 

If you are one of those drivers who leave their insurance card in its pristine white envelope sitting on the kitchen counter, you will no longer have to try to convince the officer that you left your card in your other pants.  Soon you will be able to whip out your smartphone and provide your proof of insurance digitally, just the way Mother Nature intended.  The trickle of states permitting the use of digital proof of insurance is becoming a flood. In 2012 there were seven states that permitted digital cards; now midway through 2013 that number has gone to 25.  

Legislation is pending in three more states according to a map produced by the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America; Washington is one of the states that allow the display of your Washington Auto Insurance  on your electronic device.   

If you want to join the ranks of the digitally prepared, and you have a smartphone, you need to contact your insurer to see if they offer an app to display your current insurance status.  

There are some electronic shortcuts that will not be available to the consumer.  Many of the e-Card bills specify that the digital card be issued by the insurer. You are not going to be able to get away with a jpeg of your paper card as proof.  

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the digitization of insurance cards.  Both consumers and policeman have some reservations about the change that reflects each group’s suspicions about the other. The police reservations relate to the possibility that a “photoshopped” facsimile of a card could be used on a cellphone and to the liability for handling a consumer’s expensive digital gadget with the ever present possibility of the claim it was broken while in the officer’s possession.  For their part, consumer’s – or at least their attorneys – have expressed concern that other information could be extracted from a phone while in an officer’s possession.  Would you want your cellphone with its pictures and records of text messages in the hands of a policeman?   

Washington State has addressed the breakage question by including language in ESSB 5095 – the bill authorizing digital representation as proof of insurance – says police cannot be held liable if they accidentally damage a smartphone while verifying vehicle insurance.    One important thing to remember though is that while the bill was passed in late May, be careful waving that cell phone round just yet, the legislation will not become effective until July 28, 2013. 

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