We’ve all been there. You get pulled over, reach for your glove box, and realize that you never put your newest insurance card in your vehicle. Your car insurance appears to be expired. You may know that you have coverage, but if you can’t prove it you will likely face a traffic ticket. Today there is a simple answer to this problem—electronic proof of insurance. But is it always valid?
What is Electronic Proof of Insurance?
Almost every major car insurance company on the market now has a mobile app. These mobile apps allow you to pay your bill, file a claim, and check coverage. Most of the apps also allow you to pull up a digital identification card that proves you have car insurance. This digital or electronic proof of insurance is often the most convenient way to prove coverage if you are in an auto accident or get pulled over by the police. But does all law enforcement accept it?
46 States Accept Electronic Proof of Insurance
As late as 2011, not a single state accepted electronic proof of insurance. However, today the number of states that accept electronic proof of insurance has grown tremendously. Of the 50 states, 46 of them accept electronic proof of insurance. The exceptions to the rule are Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Mexico. Washington DC also does not allow electronic proof of insurance.
The Exceptions, and What is Being Done About Them
There are some exceptions to the rule. In four states and Washington D.C. you cannot use a mobile app for electronic proof of insurance. Knowing which states require a paper proof of insurance is important to make sure that you are within the law.
Connecticut started to make some progress toward electronic proof of insurance back in 2017. A bill was introduced and passed in the state house of representatives to allow electronic proof of insurance. However, the bill died in the senate. It never got a senate vote, and simply stalled out in favor of other priority legislation. Hopefully, eventually the senate will get around to voting on this law and get it to the governor, who could sign it into law. There is no indication how long this might take, however.
Massachusetts doesn’t allow for electronic proof of insurance, but that’s because it really isn’t needed. In Massachusetts, your vehicle’s registration paperwork contains your proof of insurance, so a separate document isn’t needed at all. However, having your electronic proof of insurance on your mobile app can be helpful in providing coverage information or contact information to someone you have hit in a car accident.
New Hampshire is the only state in the United States of America that doesn’t require drivers to have car insurance. In that state, almost everyone on the roads is not required to carry car insurance. Since there is no mandated law for coverage, there is no mandated law for having proof of coverage in your vehicle. It is, however, a good idea to have car insurance in any case, and having electronic proof of insurance on your phone can be helpful in case of an accident.
No law has been passed in New Mexico allowing electronic proof of insurance to be a valid form of identification. However, according to a local newspaper investigation and article, most law enforcement agencies in New Mexico do accept electronic proof of insurance as a matter of informal policy. It is important that you always have a traditional paper form of proof of insurance in your vehicle in case you are pulled over by a police officer who does not subscribe to the informal rule.
Washington DC has no policies about electronic proof of insurance, and no laws that make it legal. If you are caught without traditional proof of insurance in Washington DC, you could be facing a ticket, fines, and court costs. It is important that even if your insurance company has electronic proof of insurance that you keep a paper copy in your vehicle if you will be traveling in the nation’s capital.
Using Your Electronic Proof of Insurance
If you are going to be using electronic proof of insurance, make sure you already have the app installed on your phone and stay logged in at all times. You don’t want to have to wait on the app to be able to provide proof of insurance when it is needed. The officer may not want to wait. You should also make sure that your policy is always kept current on premiums so that there are no surprises when you open up your app to show electronic proof of insurance.